What is Criminal Negligence?
What elements make someone criminally negligent so they can face charges under Sec. 19.05? According to the Texas District & County Attorneys Association (TDCAA), “Someone is criminally negligent as to the result of his conduct if he ought to be aware of a substantial and unjustifiable risk that result would occur.”
The TDCAA continues, “This risk must be of such a nature that the failure to perceive it constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of care than an ordinary person would have exercised.” Let’s take a look at some ways someone can be “criminally negligent” to the point where they take someone else’s life and face charges under Sec. 19.05:
- A man ties his friend inside railroad tracks as a joke, but his friend dies by accident.
- A young woman puts her friend in a suitcase and sticks it in her trunk to “be funny,” but her friend suffocates and dies.
- A waiter puts his co-worker in a freezer because he’s mad at him, but the co-worker is in there too long and freezes to death.
- While hazing a fellow college student, a sophomore holds a student’s head in a bucket of water too long and he drowns.
If you notice, there is a common thread in the above examples. Essentially, each death involved negligence and if the offender was being reasonable, the death could have been prevented. Deaths caused by criminal negligence are basically reckless deaths that result from people making poor decisions. We often see this charge in connection with college hazing, and with young people who make terrible mistakes that can’t be undone.
What are the Penalties for Criminally Negligent Homicide?
In Texas, homicide offenses are covered under Title 5, Chapter 19 of the Texas Penal Code. Under Section 19.01, there are four types of criminal homicide, including: 1) murder, 2) capital murder, 3) manslaughter, and 4) criminally negligent homicide. For the purposes of this post, we’re going to discuss criminally negligent homicide, the least serious of the four homicide offenses.
Criminally negligent homicide is covered under Section 19.05(a) of the Texas Penal Code. Under this section, it reads: “A person commits an offense if he recklessly causes the death of an individual.” An offense under Sec. 19.05 is a state jail felony, punishable by:
- Up to a $10,000 fine
- 180 days to 2 years behind bars
If you’re facing charges for criminally negligent homicide, contact our firm at once!