Texas Manslaughter Laws
Overview of Texas Manslaughter Laws
Texas does not officially use the term "involuntary manslaughter" or "voluntary manslaughter," which can sometimes be a little bit confusing. Many states do make the distinction between voluntary and involuntary manslaughter, but Texas manslaughter law combines the two into a single a charge with enhanced penalties under certain circumstances, as will be discussed below.
Elements of Texas Manslaughter
To convict a defendant of manslaughter, prosecutors must be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant recklessly caused the death of another individual.
There is no requirement of premeditation to this crime and no requirement for there to be intent or knowledge on the part of the defendant. The only requirement is that the defendant's conduct was reckless.
Intoxication and Vehicular Manslaughter
Although manslaughter is defined broadly in Texas, there are specific types of manslaughter that are treated separately. Car accidents happen every day in the Lone Star State and occasionally these accidents lead to the death or serious bodily injury of another person.
For example, intoxication manslaughter is one, and vehicular manslaughter is another. Intoxication manslaughter deals with the defendant recklessly causing the death of another while intoxicated. Vehicular manslaughter deals with the defendant recklessly causing the death of another while driving a vehicle or vessel.
Defenses to Manslaughter Charges
There are several different types of defenses to the crime of manslaughter. Please speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney to learn if any of them are available in your specific situation.
- "Heat of passion" defense (i.e. The defendant was provoked to commit the crime by fear, rage, terror or some other extreme emotion.)
Where Can I Go for More Information on Possible Manslaughter Defenses?
Penalties and Sentences
Manslaughter in Texas is a second degree felony. This charge will typically carry a sentence of between two and twenty years in a state prison and/or a fine of no more than $10,000.
Texas Manslaughter Laws: Statute
Texas Manslaughter Statute (Penal Code, Title 5, Chapter 19)
Note: State laws are constantly changing -- please contact a Texas criminal defense attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.