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How is manslaughter different from murder in Texas?

On Behalf of | May 31, 2024 | Manslaughter Defense |

Manslaughter and murder are two different charges – and the difference between them has significant legal ramifications. 

In Texas, murder involves intentionally or knowingly causing someone’s death, or intentionally causing someone great bodily harm and, as a result, their death. It can also involve deaths caused in the commission of another felony act when someone’s actions are clearly dangerous to others.

Manslaughter is a more nuanced charge because it doesn’t involve intentional or premeditated harm. Instead, the only requirement is that the defendant acted recklessly in some way, and their recklessness brought about the death of another.

What does that mean?

Well, there’s really no one definition of what it means to be “reckless,” although here are some common scenarios that could lead to a manslaughter charge:

  • A drunk driving accident, since choosing to get behind the wheel of a motor vehicle while intoxicated is showing a significant amount of disregard for the safety of others
  • Shoving someone off a ledge into water, not realizing that the fall itself (if they are high enough up) could be fatal or not realizing that the other party isn’t a strong swimmer
  • Shooting a firearm into the air in celebration at a special event, like a wedding or in celebration of a new birth, without thinking about the fact that the bullets have to fall back down at considerable speed – fast enough to kill someone
  • Setting off fireworks at a “gender reveal” party and using far too many explosives for safety, causing the death of one of the guests
  • Punching someone in a brawl over a significant other and causing them a serious brain injury that later turns fatal

In many cases, people end up finding themselves charged with manslaughter when they think of what happened as a mere “accident.” Whatever the circumstances, invoke your right to remain silent until you fully understand the charges and your defense options.

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