Posted on 11/28/16

Neighbors find a dead body inside a house. A daughter visits her elderly mother and finds her dead inside her apartment. After not showing up to work for a week, the boss calls the police to search the employee’s home. They find the employee dead. Police raid a suspected drug house and find dead bodies inside the house.

The media reports the above scenarios constantly. Thereafter, the police search for the killer while the media reports any progress. When the police believe that they have the suspect in custody, they call for a press conference to discuss the case. At the press conference, the media arrives en masse to cover the story. The chief of police discusses the case and names a suspect. Then the police chief provides some detail why he believes that the suspect was the killer.

When these situations happen, many people already decided that the suspect is guilty of murder and should be sitting on death row. If you are facing murder charges, know that the implications are severe. You will likely find that your friends shun you; work colleagues do not want to speak with  you; your family will face negative repercussions. At difficult times like these, you need a highly skilled lawyer who will advocate on your behalf.

Defenses to a Murder Charge

First, know that to be guilty ofmurder or capital murder in Texas, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed murder. Merely suggesting that a defendant committed murder does not change a presumption of innocence.

Second, there are several defenses that a defendant can present to jury during a murder trial. Here are a few:

Innocence: The defendant will state that he did not commit the murder. He claims that this is a case of mistaken identity. To substantiate this claim, the defendant will produce an alibi that the defendant was with someone else in another place when the alleged murder occurred.

Self-Defense: The defendant will claim that he acted in self-defense and therefore the murder, though he committed it, was justified. To substantiate this claim, the defendant will produce evidence demonstrating that the defendant, under the circumstances, reasonably believed that his life was in danger and was therefore compelled to respond with deadly force.

Accident: A defendant will claim that the killing was an accident. A defendant may claim that he was trying to kill a bear encroaching on his property and an errant bullet flew through his backyard into the house of a neighbor. Since the defendant lacked any criminal intent, his intent to kill the bear cannot be transferred to the killing of the neighbor. Note that in such an instance the defendant may have committed manslaughter under the Texas Penal Code. However, this would be a defense to the murder charge.

Insanity: A defendant can claim that he lacked the requisite mental state to be guilty of a criminal act under the Texas Penal Code. To be successful using an insanity defense, the defendant must show that, among other things, he does not know right from wrong.

If you are accused of murder you need to contact a lawyer with a proven track record. Contact Christopher Abel.

(image courtesy of Larry Farr) 

Flower Mound Office

Phone: 972.584.7837

Denton Office