How Much Time Can You Get For Attempted Murder Charges in Texas?

how many years for attempted murder

If you or a loved one has been charged with attempting to commit murder in Texas, the potential consequences are extremely serious. While the state does not have a specific “attempted murder” charge, prosecutors can pursue allegations of a criminal attempt of first-degree or second-degree murder.

The degree charged depends heavily on the specific circumstances and intent behind the alleged actions. No matter whether the charge is for an attempted first-degree or second-degree murder, a conviction can result in over a decade in prison under Texas law.

In this blog post, we’ll break down the legal nuances of how these charges are defined, explore the different potential sentencing ranges, and discuss some of the key aggravating factors, like the use of a deadly weapon that can increase the punishments for those convicted. Understanding this complex area of the law is critical for anyone facing charges related to an alleged murder attempt in Texas.

Texas Attempted Murder Statutes

Texas does not have a specific “attempted murder” statute. Instead, these charges typically involve prosecutors alleging a criminal attempt of first-degree or second-degree murder. The degree pursued depends on the specific circumstances and intent behind the alleged actions.

Under Section 15.01 of the Texas Penal Code, a person commits an attempted offense if, with the specific intent to commit that offense, they take actions amounting to more than mere preparation towards carrying out the intended crime. Attempted offenses are one category lower than the intended crime.

Section 19.02 of the Texas Penal Code defines the different degrees of murder charges in Texas:

  • First-degree/capital murder involves intentionally and knowingly causing a death, intending to cause a death while committing another felony, or murdering a police officer/firefighter.
  • Second-degree murder is intending to cause serious bodily injury or committing an act clearly dangerous to human life, causing death.

So, in essence, an attempted first-degree murder charge alleges the defendant took a direct step beyond mere preparation with the specific intent to intentionally and knowingly cause someone’s death through calculated actions.

While attempted second-degree involves intended serious injury or dangerous acts resulting in an unintended death.

Elements of Attempted Murder in Texas

For a defendant to be convicted of attempted murder, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant took concrete steps with the specific intent to unlawfully kill someone but ultimately failed to complete the act.

This involves establishing four key elements:

  1. Criminal Intent – The defendant willfully attempted to cause the death of another person, not just reckless or negligent behavior.
  2. Specific Prohibited Act – There is clear evidence the defendant took a direct action beyond mere preparation toward causing death or serious bodily injury.
  3. Causation – The defendant’s actions led to consequences showing an attempted killing, even if not successfully completed.
  4. Lack of Consummation – While the defendant attempted murder, they ultimately did not succeed in unlawfully causing the victim’s death.

By proving these elements, the prosecution aims to show the defendant is guilty of attempted murder rather than a lesser included offense. The defense can counter by raising reasonable doubt about any of these elements not being definitively proven.

What are the Penalties for Attempted Murder in Texas?

Attempted murder is considered an extremely serious violent crime in Texas, with potential penalties depending on the underlying murder charge:

Second-Degree Felony Attempted Murder

If convicted of attempted second-degree murder under Section 19.02, you could face:

  • 2 to 20 years in state prison
  • Up to a $10,000 fine

Third-Degree Felony Attempted Murder

For cases involving attempted murder charges that would have been first-degree murder had they been completed (such as those involving sudden passion), penalties include:

  • 2 to 10 years in prison
  • Up to a $10,000 fine

These penalties can be further enhanced based on aggravating factors like the use of a deadly weapon, prior convictions for violent crimes, or if the victim was a law enforcement officer, emergency responder, or belonged to another protected class.

Potential Defenses to Attempted Murder Charges

At Whalen Law Office, our veteran criminal defense team has successfully defended countless clients against attempted murder and other serious violent crime charges in Texas by strategically attacking the prosecution’s case and evidence.

Just a few of the potential defense strategies we may pursue include:

  • Lack of specific intent to kill: Perhaps your actions were reckless and could form grounds for lesser assault charges, but the prosecution cannot definitively show a calculated plan to unlawfully cause death. Raising reasonable doubt here is key.
  • No direct steps taken: Similarly, we may argue you did not actually take any direct actions towards killing someone beyond mere speculative “thoughts” or preparation. Essentially, the prosecution overreached.
  • Self-defense: If the alleged attempted murder was in response to a reasonable fear of harm and proportional force was used, you may have a valid self-defense claim that eliminates criminal liability.
  • Suppressing evidence: We will examine the prosecution’s case with a fine-tooth comb, filing motions to keep out evidence obtained through improper searches, arrests, or interrogation tactics that violate your constitutional rights.

Having nearly a century of combined legal experience defending high-stakes felony cases, our team at Whalen Law understands just how aggressive prosecutors can be when pursuing attempted murder convictions. You need equally tenacious legal advocates to battle for you.

The Penalties Are Too Severe to Leave Anything to Chance

With such harsh penalties on the table for attempted murder convictions in Texas, leaving your future in the hands of an overworked public defender or subpar legal representation is simply too risky. Your freedom, reputation, relationships, career prospects – all could be destroyed.

That’s why so many Texans have turned to Whalen Law when their lives are on the line. From our very first confidential consultation, you’ll have direct access to our top-notch legal minds, who will leave no stone unturned in building the most effective defense. We know how to take on even the toughest prosecutorial teams and will spare no effort in attacking any weaknesses in their case against you.

If you or a loved one have been arrested for attempted murder in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, the clock is ticking. Don’t move forward without first contacting Whalen Law Office to request your case evaluation. We’ll review all the details, explore your rights and options, and clearly outline our comprehensive defense strategy.

Author Bio

James P. Whalen

James P. Whalen is the managing attorney and founder of Whalen Law Office, a Texas criminal defense firm offering personalized legal representation for various federal criminal charges. With a commitment to providing comfort and guidance during challenging times, Mr. Whalen serves as both an attorney and counselor to his clients, helping them navigate their cases while striving to restore normalcy to their lives.

In an inherently unbalanced criminal justice system, Mr. Whalen takes on cases with unwavering dedication. With decades of legal experience, he offers representation across various criminal charges, including white-collar crimes, violent crimes, drug charges, and more. Mr. Whalen’s numerous accolades, including Super Lawyer recognition and board certification in Criminal Appellate Law and Criminal Law, reflect his unwavering commitment to ethical and high-quality legal representation.

LinkedIn | State Bar Association | Avvo | Google