In Houston, attempted murder is the most serious of the so-called “inchoate offenses” — it is a felony carrying penalties that can utterly devastate your life as well as the lives of your loved ones. If you have been charged with second-degree murder in the Houston area, it is imperative that you seek the assistance of an experienced Houston criminal defense attorney as early as possible in the prosecution process. In many cases, there are ways that an experienced defense attorney can reduce an attempted murder charge to a lesser offense or even win an outright acquittal.
Elements of the Crime
Under the Texas Criminal Code, to convict you of attempted murder the prosecution must prove that:
(i) You had the requisite criminal intent – either:
- you willfully intended to physically harm and kill someone; or
- you committed a reckless physical assault on someone in a manner that exhibited a willful disregard for human life (even if you didn’t specifically intend to kill anyone)
(ii) You committed an act (amounting to more than mere preparation) that furthered the commission of a murder but failed to complete it. Simply buying a gun, for example, might not be enough; however, firing a gun at someone probably would be enough. Entering an intended victim’s property carrying a loaded gun, by contrast, could possibly be argued either way.
The prosecution must prove both of the foregoing elements beyond a reasonable doubt – you are entitled to an acquittal on the charge of attempted murder if the defense can raise reasonable doubt concerning either element (i) or element (ii).
Attempted murder is a felony punishable by:
- A minimum of 2 and a maximum of 20 years in state prison; and/or
- a fine of up to $10,000.
As a convicted felon you will lose many of your civil rights, such as the right to own firearms. You may also find it difficult to secure employment or even rent an apartment.
Depending on the facts of the case, many different possible defenses might present themselves to the mind of an experienced Houston criminal defense attorney, including:
- Lack of criminal intent: You did not intend to kill anyone, for example, or you were too intoxicated to recognize the life-threatening nature of your actions. This defense, even if successful, would not result in an acquittal; instead, it would likely reduce the charge to aggravated assault.
- Self-defense or defense of another: This defense, if successful, usually results in a complete acquittal.
- Insufficient act in furtherance: Your act amounted to no more than “mere preparation” (buying a gun, for example).
- Contradiction: The acts alleged by the prosecutor never took place — the “victim” was lying, for example, or you were mistakenly identified.
Getting Legal Help
Houston criminal defense lawyer Mario Madrid enjoys two decades of experience, including stints as a prosecutor and a judge. He is one of only three percent of Texas criminal lawyers to be Board Certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization in Criminal Law. If you have been charged with attempted murder in the Houston area, call Madrid Law, PLLC at 713-877-9400 for a free initial consultation.