If you have been charged with attempted murder, this is a serious accusation against you. It is highly based on the defendant’s supposed intent towards the alleged victim. Because the charge is subjective by nature, it is essential to obtain a proper defense as soon as possible. The prosecution will use an array of attacks against you.
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Action and Intention in Attempted Murder
To be convicted of the crime of attempted homicide, the prosecutor must prove that the defendant took one or more direct steps to kill a targeted individual.
The court requires the direct step to go beyond the concept that the individual prepared to commit murder. He or she must actually cross over from mental decision to action, and take steps to perpetrate an action of murder:
- Preparation involves talking about performing a crime, thinking about committing it, or planning in other ways to execute it.
- Perpetration involves taking one or more actions to put the defendant’s plan in action that results in committing an intended killing. Sufficient actions that qualify as “direct step(s)” differ from case to case, but some of the following actions may qualify:
1. Tracking, ambushing, or stalking a victim: The offender allegedly hides out to wait for the victim, tracks him or her down, or follows him or her with hopes to find an opportunity to perform the murder.
2. Luring the victim: The offender allegedly attempts to convince the targeted victim to arrive at a certain place or to take actions to enable the commitment of murder.
3. Breaking into the victim’s home, etc.: The offender unlawfully decides to sneak into the house, property, or another location where the victim is (or thought to be).
4. Constructing a lethal weapon: This may include buying necessary materials to make a bomb to kill the intended victim, or to begin the process of assembling them.
5. Soliciting another party: Convincing or paying another person to kill the victim, or asking an innocent person to carry out one of the steps to commit the crime, e.g. unknowingly carrying the bomb to the place where the victim is or will be, may be considered an action.
Intention is necessary to commit murder. The prosecutor must prove that the defendant intended to commit murder. In addition, he or she must prove that the defendant intended to murder—and that he or she specifically intended to kill the identified victim. The following areas can be used to prove intention, including:
- Intent to act. The defendant must have the intention to perform the required actions. He or she must have intended to perform one or more direct steps:
1. For instance, the prosecutor must prove that the defendant thought about killing a victim and ended up buying the materials necessary to make a bomb.
2. If he or she unintentionally bought materials to make a bomb but didn’t know how to do so, then he or she doesn’t have the necessary intention to commit a direct step.
3. If he or she researched how to make a bomb, bought materials, and assembled the bomb, he or she took one or more direct steps.
- Intent to kill. In order to prove attempted murder, the defendant must be shown to have intended to cause specific harm, e.g. kill the identified victim. He or she can’t commit murder if his or her intention was to merely frighten, injure, maim, or disfigure the victim. It may be challenging for a prosecutor to prove that the defendant intended to kill, but sometimes circumstances of the case seem to lead to the conclusion:
1. If the defendant hit the other party with a metal pipe, that may be enough to prove your intention to kill him or her. Alternatively, swinging a metal pipe at the person’s legs is less definitive—it may not demonstrate the intent to kill.
Prosecutions against an Attempted Murder Charge
A prosecution may fail because the prosecutor can’t prove that the defendant took a direct step, or that he or she demonstrated specific intent to commit murder.
Sometimes, however, a jury might not convict because the defense offers a specific defense. When attempted murder doesn’t result in the “intended” harm, a qualified criminal defense attorney will bring specific defenses that aren’t typically relevant in other kinds of cases.
Selecting a certified criminal attorney may be a wise decision in a high-stakes criminal trial for attempted murder.
Inchoate Offenses in Texas
Under Texas Penal Code Title 4 Section 15.01, the Inchoate Offenses section, actions constituting a criminal attempt include any actions involved in the preparation of and failed attempt to commit the said offense of murder.
An attempted crime is one degree lower than the offense the actor allegedly intended to commit. If the actor is accused of attempting murder, he or she faces a potential second-degree felony charge. In Texas, murder is considered a first-degree felony.
Attempted Homicide and Assault
The major difference between attempted murder or attempted homicide and an aggravated or simple assault charge involves the defendant’s intent:
- If the defendant’s criminal defense attorney can prove the defendant had no intent to kill the alleged victim, then any damage or physical harm he or she suffered could be legally considered as simple or aggravated assault.
- Comprehending the differences between an attempted murder charge and assault may be a highly relevant factor in protecting you.
An experienced criminal defense attorney will thoroughly evaluate your case to fight the charges against you. If you or someone you love has been charged with attempted murder or attempted homicide, time is a critical factor. An attempted murder charge is extremely serious.
Understand that a prosecutor’s decision to file a charge of attempted murder against you may be subjective. The prosecutor must prove one of the following elements to support an attempted murder charge in court:
- The defendant demonstrated “willful intent” to kill or do physical harm to another individual.
- The defendant demonstrated “willful disregard” for another person’s life through his or her use of “reckless physical assault.”
Attempted Murder Punishments
The defendant convicted of attempted murder faces punishments depending on the specific circumstances of the case. In the state of Texas, the offender convicted of attempted murder faces a sentence that’s one degree less severe than a murder conviction.
The Texas Bar reports that most licensed attorneys lack significant trial experience. If you or someone you love has been accused of attempted homicide, know that you need a credentialed criminal defense attorney with deep jury trial experience.
If convicted of attempted murder, the defendant faces a permanent criminal record, up to 20 years in a Texas prison, and a maximum $10,000 fine.
When a charge of attempted murder is combined with additional felony charges, the potential stakes go even higher. Special circumstances of the case may increase the available penalties if the defendant is convicted of attempted murder.
Leave nothing to chance. Hire the most experienced criminal defense attorney you can.
Defenses against an Attempted Murder Charge
In an attempted murder trial, the defendant has the right to exercise his or her legal right to remain silent. Certainly, it may be unwise to agree to speak with any law enforcement official before meeting with a criminal defense lawyer.
Since an attempted murder case hones in on the defendant’s supposed intention or intentions, it is imperative to engage a knowledgeable Texas homicide attorney who will use effective strategies to challenge the prosecution’s theories. Each aspect of the defendant’s supposed preparation before the incident—and the assumption that the defendant for whatever reasons failed to commit the intended homicide—must be evaluated and fully challenged.
Speak with an Experienced Attempted Murder Attorney in Houston, TX
If you or a loved one is facing a potential attempted murder charge in Texas, your need to consult with an experienced attempted homicide attorney is immediate. An attempted murder charge has the potential to ruin your good name and your life. A qualified criminal defense lawyer with many years of courtroom trial experience is needed now.
It’s always in your best interests to consult with a criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible if you’re facing a serious criminal charge. Contact the Law Office of Brett A. Podolsky in Houston to schedule an initial case evaluation at 713-227-0087.