Criminally Negligent Homicide vs Manslaughter: What’s the Difference?

March 26, 2020

Criminal homicide under the Texas Penal Code is said to occur when an individual causes the death of another knowingly, intentionally, recklessly, or with criminal negligence. In Texas, criminal homicide can be of four types: (a) criminally negligent homicide (b) manslaughter (c) murder (d) capital murder. 

Texas law (unlike some other states) does not recognize different “degrees” of criminally negligent homicide, manslaughter, and murder. Instead, the penalties get determined by the charge itself. If you or someone you love has been charged with criminal homicide, your first step should be to have a focused and knowledgeable Texas homicide attorney on your side.


Criminally Negligent Homicide

Under Texas law, criminally negligent homicide is said to occur when an individual causes the death of another person through criminal negligence. An action constitutes “criminal negligence” when an individual should have known that their conduct poses a significant and justifiable risk of causing the death of another person. 

texas homicide attorneyCriminally negligent homicide, among all types of homicide in Texas, is charged least often because the dividing line between criminal and ordinary negligence is thin. For example, if a motorist ignores a clear stop sign and kills a pedestrian, it could be argued that the driver’s conduct constituted negligence, but not criminal negligence. 

However, if the same motorist was also texting on a cell phone as well as speeding, the argument could change. Similarly, when an overloaded commercial truck spills a part of the cargo (poorly secured) on the road killing another driver, it may be considered negligence. But the scenario could change if the records show the trucker had been driving beyond the permitted number of hours and had ignored truck maintenance as well.

According to the law in Texas, when negligence exceeds a certain limit, it could be charged as a crime if it results in the death of someone. When that line of criminality is crossed is a subjective matter, and will differ from case to case. This is where it becomes vital for someone facing these charges to seek legal representation from an experienced Texas criminal defense attorney. 



Manslaughter is said to occur under Texas law when an individual recklessly causes the death of another person. The action is considered “reckless” when the individual is cognizant of the fact that it will kill another person, but consciously disregards the significant and unjustifiable risk involved. 

For instance, an individual points a gun at another without even checking if it is loaded, and pulls the trigger just to scare the other person. If this event causes the death of the victim, it would constitute manslaughter. Anyone charged with this serious crime should evaluate their legal options with the help of a competent Texas criminal defense lawyer. 

texas criminal defense lawyer“Intoxication manslaughter” is a serious and common form of manslaughter. When a person is driving while intoxicated (DWI) and ends up killing another person, it would be a case of intoxication manslaughter. A killing committed in the “heat of passion” may also be charged as manslaughter because even though the killing was not premeditated, the person acted without any regard for another’s life. 


Facing a criminal conviction in Texas? Call Flood & Associates Today

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