What is Criminally Negligent Homicide in Texas?

criminally negligent homicide

What is Criminally Negligent Homicide?

Criminally negligent homicide takes a typically civil concept - negligence - and uses it to hold a person criminally responsible for the death of another.

Criminally negligent homicide occurs when a person causes the death of another by acting negligently in a manner that was a gross deviation from what a reasonable person would have done.

What is Criminal Negligence?

A person acts with criminal negligence, or is criminally negligent, with respect to the result of his conduct when he ought to be aware of a substantial and unjustifiable risk that the result will occur. The risk must be of such a nature and degree that the failure to perceive it constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of care that an ordinary person would exercise under all the circumstances as viewed from the actor’s standpoint.

What is Reckless?

A person acts recklessly, or is reckless, with respect to the result of his conduct when he is aware of but consciously disregards a substantial and unjustifiable risk that the result will occur. The risk must be of such a nature and degree that its disregard constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of care that an ordinary person would exercise under all the circumstances as viewed from the actor’s standpoint.

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What’s the Difference between Criminally Negligent Homicide and Manslaughter?

Example of Criminally Negligent Homicide

Let’s use this example to distinguish between criminally negligent homicide and manslaughter in Texas. Imagine a man driving his vehicle on nearly bald tires is unable to stop in time to avoid hitting another vehicle and kills another driver. There will certainly be a strong argument that he should have been aware that driving on bald tires was a taking a substantial and unjustifiable risk that he could cause the death of another.

Example of Manslaughter

Now let’s build on the example and imagine the driver failed a state inspection and knows he needs to replace his tires, and then is involved in a traffic accident where he is unable to stop in time and causes the death of another. Here, the State will be able to allege that he was aware of but consciously disregarded a substantial and unjustifiable risk that caused the death of another. These facts might rise to the level of manslaughter in Texas. Learn more about manslaughter in Texas.

What is the Punishment for Criminally Negligent Homicide in Texas?

Criminally negligent homicide is a state jail felony, which is punishable by six months to two years in a state jail facility and up to a $10,000 fine.

What is the Statute of Limitations for Criminally Negligent Homicide in Texas?

The statute of limitations for Criminally Negligent Homicide is three years in Texas.

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The law: Criminally negligent homicide

Penal Code Section 19.05 says

(a)  A person commits an offense if he causes the death of an individual by criminal negligence.

(b)  An offense under this section is a state jail felony.

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Benson Varghese

Managing Partner at Varghese Summersett PLLC
Benson Varghese is the founder and Managing Partner of Varghese Summersett PLLC. He is a prolific writer and has authored hundreds of articles about criminal law in Texas and at the Federal level. His articles have been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Above the Law, and have been selected as Top Blogs by the State Bar of Texas. He was named the Young Lawyer of the Year in 2019 by the Tarrant County Bar Association. Benson led the firm to become one of the 500 fastest growing businesses in the United States by Inc 500 Magazine in 2018. In the same year, the firm was named the Best Law Firm in Fort Worth by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. The lawyers at Varghese Summersett PLLC exclusively handle criminal defense matters.
Benson Varghese
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