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What is Attempted Murder?

The criminal law punishes those who attempt crimes, even if they aren’t successful at following through. Under Texas law, you could face attempted murder charges even if your victim lives. The penalties are severe—almost as serious as if you had completed the act. If you are facing attempted murder charges, contact a Houston criminal defense attorney at Tad Nelson & Associates. We will analyze what defenses (if any) are available and defend you in court.

Examples of Attempted Murder

You can face attempted murder charges if you exhibited a willful intent to kill or cause physical harm to someone, or if you exhibited a willful disregard for someone’s life when committing a reckless physical assault. For example:

  • Shooting a person in the chest or abdomen, but they live.
  • Intentionally trying to hit a pedestrian in a parking lot with your car, but they swerve at the last second.
  • Giving someone a lethal dose of a drug without regard for their safety.
  • Planning to kill someone and stalking them with a gun.
  • Breaking into someone’s home with the intent to kill them.
  • Paying someone to kill a person.

To be convicted of attempted murder, you must do more than simply mentally decide to kill someone. Writing in a journal, “I want to kill my mother” is not enough. Under the law, you also need to take some act toward committing the offense. This act, however, doesn’t require that you strike the victim or end up hurting them.

Punishments for Attempted Murder

Although murder is a first-degree Texas felony, attempted murder is a felony of the second degree. Still, you face serious penalties, including a maximum of 20 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. You will also have to deal with all the challenges of being a felon in Texas, including losing your ability to possess a gun or vote.

Many people are charged with other felonies for the same crime. For example, you might have robbed someone at the same time, which can add penalties. Your punishment will also depend on your criminal history.

Defending against Attempted Murder Charges

Prosecutors face an uphill climb obtaining a conviction, because they need proof of your intent to kill the victim. Unless you admitted to the intent, a prosecutor must typically rely on your actions, which might be open to multiple interpretations.

For example, simply stalking a person doesn’t mean you intend to kill them. The same is true if you shoved a person. Unless the state can prove intent beyond a reasonable doubt, they can’t get a conviction for attempted murder.

We might also raise self-defense if you were attacked first and responded in a proportional manner. For example, you might have punched a person who took a swing in your direction.

Ideally, you didn’t talk to the police before or after an arrest. If the state can’t prove intent with your own words, then it’s much easier to fight charges.

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You owe it to yourself to get the best defense against attempted murder charges. Contact us to schedule a free consultation.