As a general rule, it is against the law for one person to assist another person in committing suicide. As with most laws, there are a series of elements that must be met before the state can convict someone of this offense. First, the person must have what is referred to in the law as “specific intent.” If the actor specifically intends to promote another’s suicide by his or her actions, word, or deed, they have committed the offense of aiding another’s suicide or attempted suicide. Second, if a person assists in another’s commission or attempted commission of suicide, this also constitutes the offense of aiding suicide or attempting aided suicide. Examples could include providing someone a weapon to accomplish ending that person’s life or searching the internet to discover different ways to kill oneself and sharing those with someone contemplating suicide.
Punishment for Aiding Suicide
The extent to which someone can be punished for aiding a suicide or attempted suicide depends not on the conduct of the actor, but rather on the result achieved by the person attempting to commit suicide. The conduct, standing alone, is a Class C misdemeanor. If the conduct either causes suicide or attempted suicide, and the result is serious bodily injury, the conduct is punishable as a state jail felony. State jail felonies are punishable by a minimum of 180 days in jail and a maximum of two years in custody. Class C misdemeanors, on the other hand, are punishable only by a fine of up to $500.00.
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Penal Code Sec. 22.08
(a) A person commits an offense if, with intent to promote or assist the commission of suicide by another, he aids or attempts to aid the other to commit or attempt to commit suicide.
(b) An offense under this section is a Class C misdemeanor unless the actor’s conduct causes suicide or attempted suicide that results in serious bodily injury, in which event the offense is a state jail felony.
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