Merriam-Webster defines homicide as, “a killing of one human being by another.” In Texas, criminal homicide is covered under Title 5, Chapter 19 of the Texas Penal Code. Under Section 19.01 of the Penal Code it states: “A person commits criminal homicide if he intentionally, knowingly, or with criminal negligence causes the death of an individual.”
In Texas, there are four types of criminal homicide: 1) murder, 2) capital murder, 3) manslaughter, and 4) criminally negligent homicide. Here is a breakdown of the four homicide crimes in simple English:
1. Murder: You commit murder when you intentionally and knowingly take someone else’s life, or when you intend to commit an act that is clearly extremely dangerous to human life and in effect, causes death to another person. Murder is usually a felony of the first degree.
2. Capital Murder: There are different ways to commit capital murder. You commit capital murder if you kill a fireman or member of law enforcement. You commit capital murder if you intentionally kill someone while committing arson, kidnapping, robbery or burglary, terroristic threat, obstruction or retaliation, or sexual assault. Capital murder is a capital felony.
3. Manslaughter: You commit manslaughter if you “recklessly” cause the death of another person. Manslaughter is a felony of the second degree.
4. Criminally Negligent Homicide: If you are criminally negligent and you take someone else’s life, it would be considered criminally negligent homicide, which is a state jail felony. Some “accidental killings” fall into this category.
To learn the penalties for felonies in Texas, see Title 3, Chapter 12 of the Texas Penal Code. Manslaughter for example, is a felony of the second degree, punishable by 2 to 20 years in prison, and by a fine not to exceed $10,000 under Sec. 12.33 of the Texas Penal Code.