In Texas there are four ways prosecutors can charge a homicide: murder, capital murder, manslaughter and negligent homicide. Capital murder is by far the most serious of these charges. In Texas, the prosecution can seek the death penalty in a capital murder case, and often does.
Capital murder can be charged after a number of fact situations in Texas. A person can be charged with capital murder for killing a police officer or firefighter who is in the line of duty and whom the defendant knows is a police officer or firefighter. Capital murder can also be charged if the defendant is accused of intentionally killing a person while committing one of several specific felonies, including kidnapping, burglary, robbery or aggravated sexual assault.
Murder-for-hire will also result in capital murder charges in Texas. Both the person who allegedly committed the killing as well as the person who allegedly hired the killer can be charged.
Several other fact situations can lead to a capital murder charge in Texas. A person who commits murder while escaping from prison, or attempting to escape, can face a capital murder charge. A murder committed by a prison inmate while incarcerated can also be charged as capital murder under several fact situations. Capital murder is also defined as killing a judge, or a child under the age of 10.
For a person charged with capital murder in Texas, the potential stakes cannot be higher. Anyone facing a capital murder charge in Texas needs to put forth the most aggressive defense they can devise. Whether the defense is self-defense, mistaken identification, or unintentional injury that resulted in death, it is critical to prepare thoroughly and fight the charges doggedly at trial.