criminally negligent homicide

Criminally Negligent Homicide: What Exactly is It?

It doesn’t take malice to take someone else’s life. In cases of criminally negligent homicide, all it takes is someone not paying attention when they should be. A person’s poor decision can lead to the end of another person’s life, and when that happens, the courts get involved.

No matter how someone’s life ends, their friends and families still feel the pain of their loss. And in the eyes of the court, those people are entitled to compensation. Courts don’t usually give defendants much wiggle room when it comes to cases of negligence.

You were either paying attention to something when you should have been, or you weren’t. And in cases of the latter, there will be consequences for something happening under your watch.

To learn more about criminally negligent homicide, and what you should do if you’re charged with it, just keep reading below!

Criminally Negligent Homicide Is Not A Severe Homicide

Although the name may sound intimidating, criminally negligent homicide is a comparably minor kind of homicide. It’s filed under the same Texas penal code as every other kind of homicide. Yet, since there isn’t a level of intentionality with it, it’s not punished as severely.

It’s a crime that anyone can accidentally commit. Being at the wrong place at the wrong time while doing the wrong thing can happen to anyone.

In fact, the legal definition of criminally negligent homicide is relatively simple to understand. To the law, “a person commits an offense if he causes the death of an individual by criminal negligence.”

Defendants Aren’t Required To Know The Risk

Criminal negligence is a well-established and documented crime with clear definitions. Simply put, criminal negligence is committed when something happens under a person’s watch. The best example to understand criminal negligence is driving.

When a person is driving down the road, the law clearly states that they should focus on that. Their full attention should be on the road, not on texting or staying sober while under the influence. It’s up to the driver not to allow anything to happen while driving and to do their best to avoid causing an accident, or anything worse.

So, if a driver causes an accident while texting and driving, they can be charged with criminal negligence. It was their responsibility to pay attention to the road, and since they weren’t doing that, they caused an accident. They weren’t living up to what the state expected of them.

Their charges are increased to criminally negligent homicide if someone dies as a result of them not paying attention to the road. It doesn’t matter if the driver intended to harm another person. There are still consequences for ending another person’s life.

Defenses Fall Down To Arguing Over Causation

Defending against a negligence charge can be hard. Since it’s such a clearly established and defined crime, it’s usually obvious if someone is totally guilty or not. Lawyers defending against it can usually only argue whether or not something was actually their client’s responsibility.

In the formal legal language, it’s important to note that there are 4 parts to proving negligence. They’re listed below.

  • A duty of care owed to a plaintiff
  • Breach of duty of care
  • Causation
  • Damages

The last part is easy; it’s about proving that a plaintiff suffered somehow from the incident being argued. However, the first three can be trickier to understand.

Proving that a defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care means proving they were responsible for taking care of the defendant. Usually, this means arguing that they were reasonably expected to do something that they didn’t.

For example, employers are given a duty of care of their employees. If something happens to them at work, the employer can be charged since they would have failed in their responsibility. This is called a breach of a duty of care and is the second step in a negligence case.

The third step involves proving that the defendant caused the plaintiff injury at some level. There are two types of causation: actual cause and proximate cause. An actual cause is when a person’s negligence directly causes another person injury. A proximate cause is when someone failed to tangentially prevent an injury when they should have.

Negligence cases can involve nuanced legal definitions. But for the most part, they’re fairly obvious when they happen and being charged with it can lead to some consequences Especially if it involves homicide.

Charges Can Still Involve Prison Time

Criminally negligent is a state felony, and people charged with it can face up to 2 years of prison in Texas. At a minimum, people charged with criminally negligent homicide will face 180 days in state prison. They will also have a state felony follow them on their record, which is how the real consequences will show themselves.

People with felonies on their records can find it harder to live a typical, normal life. They can have a tougher time finding jobs, apartments, or even have their legal freedoms restricted. Felons can lose their rights to own firearms, work with certain groups of people, or do so much as enter a firing range.

The court can also mandate that a person take driving classes or go to community service after prison time. It can do more to impact a person’s life after prison too, since readjusting to normal society can be hard. Once a person finishes their sentence, they can find themselves without their normal jobs or lives.

Being away from so long can impact their social and professional lives. It can also jeopardize their ability to relate to the world generally. And none of that begins to touch on the complex emotions involved with any kind of homicide.

The best way to avoid it all is to simply pay attention when you need to. Follow the law, and you can avoid being charged with criminally negligent homicide.

Don’t Face The Judge Alone

The courts are a maze of legal jargon and bureaucratic processes. Navigating it while under the stress of a criminally negligent homicide charge isn’t just hard. It can be impossible.

If you’re ever charged with criminally negligent homicide, you need someone who knows the differences between different kinds of causation. You need someone to represent you, and who will ensure you receive the due process you have a right to.

For the representation you deserve, just reach out to us here. We will work with you to make sure you understand every step of the legal process and will defend you when you need it most.