Criminal charges in all forms are serious and can directly impact the rights and freedom of Texas residents. When a person learns that they have been charged with a crime, they can take proactive steps to protect themselves and their options for preparing their criminal defense strategies. One of the first steps that they can take is to contact a trusted criminal defense attorney for timely advice and support.
Alleged crimes that involve the deaths of individuals are some of the most significant charges that Texans can face. In Texas, manslaughter is a second degree felony charge that can, if conviction is secured, result in a person spending two decades of their life in jail. This post will discuss some of the elements of a manslaughter charge that must be addressed when a prosecutor pursues such a claim, but readers are reminded that this post is not legal advice.
Fact #1: Manslaughter charges must meet a standard of proof
When a prosecutor elects to file manslaughter charges against an individual, they must locate and successfully use evidence to prove that the defendant committed the crime. In doing so, they must satisfy the standard of proof for a manslaughter charge, which is proof beyond a reasonable doubt. Proving a crime beyond a reasonable doubt effectively means that the prosecutor has proven the elements of the charge or charges and that the evidence used is sufficient and legally presented. Doubt in the trial of a manslaughter defendant may lead to the failure of a court to convict.
Fact #2: Manslaughter charges are based on recklessness
Unlike murder charges which may involve claims of premeditation or planning, manslaughter charges are generally not based on intentional conduct. Rather, deaths from alleged instances of manslaughter happen when individuals engage in reckless conduct. For example, individuals who cause motor vehicle accident fatalities due to speeding, intoxication, and other allegedly reckless driving practices may face manslaughter charges if their conduct is deemed to meet this level of irresponsibility.
Fact #3: Manslaughter charges can be met with defenses
The consequences of a manslaughter conviction can be serious and long-lasting, and most people who are charged with manslaughter wish to aggressively fight the claims made against them. One way to do this is through the use of defenses. Self-defense, a commonly known criminal defense, involves asserting that one’s actions were necessary to protect them from the dangerous or threatening actions of the alleged victim. When a person is faced with harm, they are, through the self-defense, permitted to fight back to save themselves.
The general information contained in this post should not be read as legal guidance. Criminal charges such as manslaughter can impact the course of individuals’ lives and should not be left to chance. Help is available from Texas-based attorneys who represent and advocate for men and women facing manslaughter charges in the state.