Defending Attempted Murder Charges

No crime is more serious, and no consequence is more severe than taking a human life. Attempted murder is charged when someone intends to commit murder and tries to carry it out but, for some reason, fails to accomplish it. Like murder itself, it can also figuratively end the life of the person convicted of such a crime, even if the death penalty is not imposed. Simply being charged with attempting to commit a murder can lead to isolation from family, friends, colleagues, and the community.

In cases of murder and manslaughter, prosecutors in Texas are among the most skilled. They spare no effort in seeking convictions, using all available resources to ensure that those they believe to be responsible for these crimes are imprisoned for as long as the law allows.

Now, let’s explore the details of attempted murder in Texas, including the elements needed to prove the crime and the potential penalties upon conviction.

The Legal Definition of Attempted Murder in Texas

Homicide is defined as intentionally, knowingly, recklessly, or negligently causing the death of another person. According to Texas Penal Code Section 19.01, there are four types of criminal homicide:

  • Murder
  • Capital murder
  • Manslaughter
  • Criminally negligent homicide

An attempted murder is a failed attempt at murder. In Texas Penal Code Section 15.01, any criminal attempt includes preparing to commit the act and having a failed attempt to carry out the planned homicide. Attempted crimes may be punished at one degree lower than if the crime had been carried out to completion.

Elements of the Crime

Generally, the prosecution must prove two main things to charge someone with attempted murder:

  1. Intent: Evidence must show that the person intended to kill another. This means they made a conscious decision to kill or acted recklessly, likely leading to someone’s death. If the intent was only to scare or harm, it cannot be considered attempted murder. For example, waving a gun or injuring someone’s arm would likely not be considered attempted murder, but shooting or stabbing could show intent to kill.
  2. Action or “Direct Step”: Besides intent, there must be proof of a significant step toward committing the murder. What qualifies as significant can vary. For instance, merely talking about murder or buying a weapon might not be enough. Using a weapon, detailed planning, or asking someone to kill could be significant. Preparation alone is not enough; there must be actions beyond preparation.

In Texas, attempted murder occurs when someone intentionally harms another, intending to end their life, or when someone causes bodily harm due to reckless behavior that shows a complete disregard for human life.

Penalties for Attempted Murder in Texas

  • Second-Degree Felony: If convicted of second-degree attempted murder, an individual may face a prison sentence ranging from two to twenty years. Additionally, they may be subject to a fine of up to $10,000.
  • Third-Degree Felony: A conviction for third-degree attempted murder may lead to a prison term of two to ten years, along with a fine of up to $10,000.

Moreover, if someone is charged with attempted murder in Texas, they may face enhanced penalties based on their criminal history. Besides prison time and fines, they might also have to do community service and be on parole after release. Attempted murder is a serious offense in Texas and carries severe penalties.

Parole Eligibility

In Texas, a person may be eligible for parole after serving either 25% or 50% of their sentence, depending on the offense. For example, someone convicted of attempted murder might have to serve 50% of their sentence before being eligible for parole. If they were sentenced to 20 years, they could be eligible after serving 10 years.

Factors Considered by the Parole Board

The Texas Board of Paroles and Pardons considers several factors when deciding on parole, including:

  • The nature of the offense the inmate was convicted of
  • The inmate’s criminal history
  • The length of time the inmate was in prison
  • The inmate’s participation in programs while in prison
  • The inmate’s education level
  • The inmate’s age
  • Whether the inmate is likely to commit another crime in the future

Legal Defenses If Charged With Attempted Murder

Various defenses exist for someone facing a charge of attempted murder. A skilled defense team can examine the case details and choose the best defense strategy. Potential defenses include:

Self-Defense or Defense of Others

In Texas, individuals can use reasonable force to protect themselves or others from imminent harm or death. This defense doesn’t apply if there is no belief in imminent bodily injury.

Provocation into the Crime

Provocation is a partial defense to attempted murder. If the victim provoked the defendant, it might reduce the offense due to sudden passion for an adequate cause. The defendant must prove they were provoked.

Castle Doctrine and Stand Your Ground in Texas

The Castle Doctrine allows using deadly force against an intruder at home. Texas’s stand-your-ground law expands this, permitting deadly force when facing imminent danger. Understand your ground; retreat is no longer required if possible.

Abandonment of the Plan to Kill

The abandonment defense applies if the defendant voluntarily gives up their plan to kill before taking any direct action. The defendant must prove they successfully abandoned the crime.

Renunciation or Withdrawal

Some states allow a “renunciation” defense, where the accused decides not to murder after taking at least one direct step. The accused must prove they abandoned the crime by intentionally stopping all efforts to continue or prevent the murder.


What’s the Difference Between Attempted Murder and Assault with a Deadly Weapon?

In violent crimes, two often misunderstood charges are attempted murder and assault with a deadly weapon. While both involve violence, they differ in key ways. Attempted murder involves intending and trying to kill someone, falling short of causing death. Assault with a deadly weapon is intentionally using such a weapon to cause fear or harm. The main difference is intent: attempted murder requires intent to kill, while assault with a deadly weapon requires intent to cause fear or harm, not necessarily to kill.

What Happens If Someone Else Is Killed Instead Of The Intended Target?

The kill zone theory allows prosecutors to charge someone with attempted murder even if they didn’t intend to kill the specific person who was harmed. Defendants can be held responsible for anyone killed while trying to kill their intended target, even if they didn’t know anyone else was in harm’s way.

For example, if someone shoots into a house to kill a specific person but ends up hitting three other people instead, they may also be held accountable for those deaths.

Arrested? Don’t Plea, Call Me!

If you’re facing charges of attempted murder in Texas, understanding your rights and defenses is crucial. The penalties for this crime are severe and can have a lasting impact on your life. A skilled defense team can help you navigate the legal process and work towards the best possible outcome. Take action now; seek assistance immediately.