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Texas Manslaughter Laws

An incident that results in someone's death can often also start a long and difficult legal battle for survivors. 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 in the chart below.

Statute Texas Manslaughter Statute - Texas Penal Code, Title 5, Chapter 19
Elements of the Manslaughter Charge

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.

Reckless Conduct

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 Against 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.

See Involuntary Manslaughter Defenses and Voluntary Manslaughter Defenses for more general information.

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.

See Involuntary Manslaughter Penalties and Sentencing and Voluntary Manslaughter Penalties and Sentencing to learn more.

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Related Resources:

Facing Felony Charges in Texas? An Attorney Can Help

If you are charged with a crime relating to the loss of human life, you have a lot on your hands. The seriousness of a manslaughter charge means that you'll need a carefully planned defense strategy. Contact an experienced Texas defense attorney and learn how they can help ensure that the unfortunate circumstances that took someone's life don't end up ruining yours as well.

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