Posted on 8/7/17

A Dallas man goes away on a business trip to England for two weeks. He tells his wife and family that he will be in England for a certain amount of days. In truth, he is coming in a day before. Although his wife offers to drive and pick him up from the airport, he claims that the company pays for long-term parking so he will take his car to the airport and park it there. When he returns, he will pick up his car from the lot and return home. It will be hassle-free for his wife.

The man returns as scheduled a day before. He does this because he suspects his wife is cheating on him and thinks she may be doing it in their house. The man picks up his car from the lot and heads home. He parks his car a block away so his wife will not notice him if he would be pulling into the driveway. The man goes around the back door and walks quietly into the house. He tiptoes to his bedroom and carefully opens the door. There, he sees his wife in bed with one of the neighbors. The man becomes enraged, grabs an aluminum baseball bat, and charges at the bed. At the bed, the man relentlessly pounds the neighbor with the bat. The neighbor, shocked by the man’s appearance, is unable to defend himself. The man continues to use blunt force against the man until he falls unconscious. The man then yells at his wife, demanding she get rid of her paramour before he uses the bat on her. She quickly dresses and calls the police.

The police arrive to a crime scene. They find a naked man who is now dead. They take statements from the man and his wife and put the man under arrest. A toxicology report later shows that the neighbor died of severe head trauma.

Crime of Passion

In years past, some jurisdictions did not penalize crimes of passion, such as the example above. If a man caught his wife or a wife caught a husband committing adultery and then killed the adulterer, some states used to recognize that as a defensible crime of passion. Today, no state, including Texas, recognizes crimes of passion, butTexas does recognize the heat of passion, or sudden passion, as a mitigating factor.

Sudden Passion

The Texas Penal Code recognizes the defense of “sudden passion.” “Sudden passion” means passion directly caused by and arising out of provocation by the individual killed or another acting with the person killed which passion arises at the time of the offense and is not solely the result of former provocation.” If, by a preponderance of the evidence, the defendant demonstrates that he or she acted with sudden passion, then the defendant will be entitled to a reduced sentence. In the case above, a jury would likely find that the husband acted with sudden passion, thereby downgrading his sentence from murder to manslaughter.


Accused of a crime? Get the defense help you need. Contact the law firm of Christopher Abel, a board-certified criminal defense attorney.

(image courtesy of Anne Edgar)

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