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What is second-degree murder in Texas?

On Behalf of | Jul 29, 2022 | Violent Crimes

Second-degree murder in Texas is causing another person’s death through wrongful acts. This may include acts of recklessness as well as deaths that occur while you’re committing a crime. Texas doesn’t actually use the term second-degree murder like other states do. The state usually refers to any murder as murder.

Beyond a reasonable doubt

To convict someone of murder in Texas, the prosecutors must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed murder. The court will look at whether you acted intentionally and knowingly. You don’t need to have the intent to murder for the court to charge you with this crime. If you intended to inflict serious bodily harm on another person that has a risk of death, then you could be guilty of murder. If you committed a felony or attempted to commit a felony and someone died as a result of your actions, then this is another situation in which you could be guilty of murder.


The circumstances surrounding your case influence how severe your penalties are. Defendants who had lack of intent or lack of knowledge might receive a lesser sentence. The court takes into consideration if the victim had provoked you through fear, rage, terror or another extreme emotion. This is a “heat of passion” defense. Self-defense is another factor that Texas considers when hearing a case that resulted in someone’s death.

Sentencing for a second-degree felony murder in Texas is two to 20 years in prison and a maximum $10,000 fine. It’s usually heat of passion cases that receive this lesser sentence. Violent crimes with intent typically have a harsher incarceration penalty of up to 99 years in prison. The maximum fine, however, is still set at $10,000. At the lower end, a first-degree felony for murder could result in five years in prison.

Causing the death of someone else through reckless acts or heat of passion could result in a murder charge. The sentencing is likely to be lower when you didn’t have the intent to inflict serious harm or kill someone.