Dallas Area Capital Murder Criminal Defense Attorneys
Capital murder is the most serious of the various homicide charges in Texas, typically reserved for particularly heinous or morally shocking crimes.
It generally applies when the government believes that a murder was intentional, planned in advance, and aggravated by some morally egregious circumstance.
People convicted of capital murder are eligible for the death penalty. We will look more closely at the Texas and federal definitions of capital murder below.
If you are under suspicion of capital murder, you need to hire the best criminal defense lawyer you can find immediately.
Your rights matter. So does your freedom. Protect them. Hire us. We will fight for you with passion, unique legal insight, and a powerful command of the law. Contact the Dallas murder defense attorneys at The Oberheiden, P.C. today.
Defining Capital Murder in Texas
Each state uses its own categories of murder and manslaughter, and those distinctions create a lot of confusion in the way people talk about murder crimes.
Texas does not use the term “first-degree murder.” In its place, we have capital murder. It is the strongest possible murder charge, and that means prosecutors have to overcome the highest barriers of proof.
To convict a defendant of capital murder in Texas, the prosecution must prove one of the following allegations (called “elements”) beyond a reasonable doubt.
- Defendant intentionally and knowingly caused the death of the victim,
- Defendant intended to cause serious bodily harm, and committed an act clearly dangerous to human life, and this act caused the death of the victim, or
- Defendant attempted or committed a felony and, in doing so, committed an act clearly dangerous to human life, and this act caused the death of the victim. (This is called felony murder, and it can apply even when the defendant did not intend for the victim to die. Note that manslaughter is not a sufficient felony for purposes of a felony murder charge.)
Additionally, for the charge to meet the standard of capital murder, an additional aggravating element must apply. Applicable aggravating elements include:
- Murder committed in the course of arson, burglary, kidnapping, robbery, aggravated sexual assault, terroristic threat, or obstruction or retaliation (or in the course of attempting one of these offenses)
- The defendant either paid someone else to commit the murder or was paid to commit the murder
- Murder committed while defendant was attempting an escape from prison or jail
- Murder committed while defendant was in prison or jail
- Defendant murdered more than one person
- Murder victim was under the age of six
- Murder victim was a police officer, peace officer, or firefighter acting under lawful duty at the time of the murder
- The murder is in retaliation for (or on account of) service in the judiciary
Please note that we have simplified the statutory language for the purposes of clarification. You still need to discuss the specifics of your case with an experienced Dallas murder defense attorney to determine how the precise language in each provision might apply to your case.
Federal Law and First-Degree Murder
Federal law uses the term first-degree murder instead of “capital murder.” The charge is similar, though not identical, to the capital murder charge in Texas.
As in our state, the federal government considers felony murder a first-degree murder offense, and defendants convicted of felony murder are generally eligible for the death penalty.
Note: the federal criminal code sometimes uses different terminology, definitions, or elements when compared to the Texas code. If your case is being charged at the federal level, those distinctions matter.
You need to work with a law firm that is not only licensed but also extensively experienced in federal first-degree murder cases. Federal cases have their own set of rules, and experience with those rules is a must.
The Dallas murder defense attorneys at Oberheiden, P.C. have the experience you need to defend against capital murder in Texas state courts, as well as first-degree murder in federal court.
Talk to Our Dallas Murder Defense Attorneys Today
You have a decision to make about which lawyers will represent you, and it is probably the most important decision you will ever make. The right law firm can make an enormous difference in the outcome of your case, as can the right attorney.
Our Dallas murder defense attorneys know how to defend against these charges, and we are prepared to uncover each and every stone in our tireless and exhaustive quest to win this case for you. You can count on us.
Every second counts. Please contact our office as soon as possible. Free consultations are available today. Please contact Oberheiden, P.C. at 1-888-727-5154 right away.