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Texas Capital Punishment Laws

Capital punishment (the death penalty) has a long and controversial history in the U.S. Each state makes its own laws concerning the sentence. Most states, including Texas, allow capital punishment for the most serious crimes. Texas defines capital homicide as a murder involving specific circumstances or situations, including:

  • The victim is a peace officer or fireman killed while on duty;
  • The murder occurred while the defendant was committing (or attempting to commit) a kidnapping, burglary, robbery, aggravated sexual assault, or arson;
  • Murder "for hire" (both the hirer and the hired);
  • The murder occurred during the course of an actual or attempted prison break;
  • Multiple murders occurred as a result of the defendant’s acts; and
  • The victim was younger than ten year old.

As with most other states, Texas uses lethal injection for its executions. Those under the age of 17 or lacking capacity (such as legal insanity) may not be executed in Texas.

The basics of capital punishment laws in Texas are highlighted in the table below. See FindLaw'sDeath Penaltysection for more related articles.

Code Section

Pen. 12.31, 19.03, 8.07; CCrP 37.071, 43.14

Is Capital Punishment Allowed?


Effect of Defendant's Incapacity

Exempt from execution

Minimum Age


Available for Crimes Other than Homicide?


Definition of Capital Homicide

Victim is peace officer or fireman in official duty; while committing/attempting to commit kidnapping, burglary, robbery, aggravated sexual assault or arson; obstruction; retaliation; for remuneration or employs another; while escaping; incarcerated and victim is employee or inmate; murder more than one person during same criminal transaction or scheme or course of conduct; victim under 6 years

Method of Execution

Lethal injection

Note:State laws are constantly changing -- contact a Texas criminal defense attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

More Information

For additional information on Texas's death penalty laws, you can consult the links to related resources below. You can also read more about the topic in general by reading FindLaw’s section on the death penalty, which discusses topics such as: the history of capital punishment, federal capital punishment laws, death penalty statistics, and recent development relating to the death penalty. If you have more questions, you may want to consider speaking with a local criminal defense attorney.

Research the Law

Texas Capital Punishment Laws: Related Resources

Facing Criminal Charges in Texas? An Attorney Can Help

If you have been charged with a capital offense, chances are you've already retained legal counsel and are probably in a holding cell. But if you have been charged with drunk driving, theft, or any other Texas crime, you'll most likely want to get a lawyer. Get started today and find an experienced Texas criminal defense attorney near you.

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