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First Degree Murder in Texas

ABC 13 KTRK-TV reported today that a jury has convicted a Houston drug dealer of first degree murder, sentencing him to 45 years in prison for killing an unarmed man. The shooting, which occurred in August 2009, involved an argument over a drug deal in which the victim and the defendant got into a physical confrontation before the victim was shot. The defendant claimed self-defense and also that the gun accidently discharged.

Facing Murder Charges in Texas

People may think of murder as a fairly straightforward crime, appropriately punishable by the most severe sentences available under the law. There are several factors that must be present to show that a person committed murder, however, making the crime much more nuanced, and more difficult to prove than many realize.

In Texas, a person commits murder in the first degree if he or she:

  • intentionally or knowingly causes the death of an individual;
  • intends to cause serious bodily injury and commits an act clearly dangerous to human life that causes the death of an individual; or
  • commits or attempts to commit a felony, other than manslaughter, and in the course of and in furtherance of the commission or attempt, or in immediate flight from the commission or attempt, he or she commits or attempts to commit an act clearly dangerous to human life that causes the death of an individual.

A person found guilty of first degree murder in Texas is punishable by a prison term of not more than 99 years or less than five years, as well as a fine up to $10,000. In the case referenced above, the defendant received a 45 year prison sentence. First degree murder is not to be confused with capital murder, which involves aggravating factors and is punishable by death. During the punishment stage of a murder trial, the defendant may assert that the death was caused while he or she was under the immediate influence of sudden passion arising from an adequate cause, which may lessen the offense to a second degree felony.

An experienced Houston criminal lawyer understands how to mount a strong defense against murder charges, aggressively looking for ways to minimize or avoid the serious consequences of a conviction.

Talk to an Experienced Houston Criminal Lawyer

If you or a loved one faces felony murder charges, you need a strong criminal defense attorney to fight for your rights and your future. Contact McLemore, Reddell, Ardoin and Story, P.L.L.C. to talk to an experienced Houston criminal lawyer about your case.