Facing a charge of murder — particularly first-degree murder — is one of the most terrifying experiences you may have in your life. Naturally, you may be worried about losing your freedom and potentially spending a significant amount of time away from your family.

Murder in the first degree in Texas refers to unlawfully killing someone in a premeditated and willful way. Fortunately, just because you face accusations of first-degree murder does not mean you are immediately guilty. Your guilt must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt before you can be convicted and sentenced accordingly.

Felony murder rule

In some cases, you can face a first-degree murder conviction even if you did not intend to kill someone but ended up killing him or her. This is possible because of what is called the felony murder rule. Under this rule, an individual commits murder in the first degree if he or she commits one of the following crimes and causes someone’s death in the process, even if the death was accidental:

  • Robbery
  • Rape
  • Burglary
  • Arson
  • Kidnapping

The elements of first-degree murder

First-degree murders usually include a few basic elements, such as following:

  • Deliberation
  • Willfulness
  • Premeditation

Regarding willfulness, if you intended to kill someone but erroneously ended up killing a random individual or the wrong individual, you can still face a first-degree murder charge. This is possible because intending to end any human life is legally associated with murder in the first degree.

Concerning premeditation and deliberation, you can still face a charge of murder in the first degree even if you did not spend a lengthy amount of time contemplating and planning the action. If you had enough time to develop an intent to kill someone and then acted upon this, then this typically qualifies as these elements.

How to ensure that you have the best defense possible

A conviction for murder in the first degree can result in consequences that are more severe than the majority of criminal charges that you could possibly face. For this reason, having an experienced attorney challenge the prosecution’s evidence in an effort to get your charges reduced or dismissed or to avoid a conviction is paramount. Your attorney can determine the best possible defense strategy for your circumstances and then strive for the most personally favorable outcome for you while ensuring the protection of your rights during the process.