Capital Murder text over flags in background
Capital Murder text over flags in background

Capital Murder

Capital Murder is the most serious crime in the state of Texas. It is the state’s only offense punishable by death. The state will charge you with Capital Murder if the prosecuting attorneys believe you murdered someone under one of the circumstances that is described by the Capital Murder statute. Learn more detailed information about the Capital Murder offense below.

UPDATE: The Capital Murder law was amended in the 86th Legislature, effective September 1, 2019, through SB 719 (“Lauren’s Law”). These changes are discussed below.

Have you been charged with Capital Murder? Call criminal lawyer Paul Saputo at (888) 239-9305 to discuss legal representation.

Capital Murder is classified in the Texas Penal Code under Title 5 “Offenses Against the Person,” Chapter 19 “Criminal Homicide.”

What is the law in Texas about Capital Murder?

The offense is described in Section 19.03 of the Texas Penal Code.1 The law was amended in the 86th Texas Legislature, through SB 719, effective September 1, 2019 (known as “Lauren’s Law.”)2 The new amendment is added in brackets below to the law as it was before the 2019 Legislative Session.

(a) A person commits an offense if the person commits murder as defined under Section 19.02(b)(1) and:

(1) the person murders a peace officer or fireman who is acting in the lawful discharge of an official duty and who the person knows is a peace officer or fireman;

(2) the person intentionally commits the murder in the course of committing or attempting to commit kidnapping, burglary, robbery, aggravated sexual assault, arson, obstruction or retaliation, or terroristic threat under Section 22.07(a)(1), (3), (4), (5), or (6);

(3) the person commits the murder for remuneration or the promise of remuneration or employs another to commit the murder for remuneration or the promise of remuneration;

(4) the person commits the murder while escaping or attempting to escape from a penal institution;

(5) the person, while incarcerated in a penal institution, murders another:

(A) who is employed in the operation of the penal institution; or

(B) with the intent to establish, maintain, or participate in a combination or in the profits of a combination;

(6) the person:

(A) while incarcerated for an offense under this section or Section 19.02, murders another; or

(B) while serving a sentence of life imprisonment or a term of 99 years for an offense under Section 20.04, 22.021, or 29.03, murders another;

(7) the person murders more than one person:

(A) during the same criminal transaction; or

(B) during different criminal transactions but the murders are committed pursuant to the same scheme or course of conduct;

(8) the person murders an individual under 10 years of age; or

(9) [the person murders an individual 10 years of age or older but younger than 15 years of age; or]

(10) the person murders another person in retaliation for or on account of the service or status of the other person as a judge or justice of the supreme court, the court of criminal appeals, a court of appeals, a district court, a criminal district court, a constitutional county court, a statutory county court, a justice court, or a municipal court.

How can I be charged with Capital Murder?

You can be charged with Capital Murder if the state’s attorneys believe that each of the elements of 19.03(1), (2), (3), (4), (5), (6), (7) or (8), as described in the section above have been met.

What is the punishment for Capital Murder?

A conviction for Capital Murder is punished as a capital felony,3 with a maximum penalty of death. However, the state may not seek the death penalty in any case based solely on an offense under Section 19.03(a)(9), Penal Code (the Lauren’s Law amendment).4

Legal References:

1 Texas Penal Code §19.03

2 Texas Penal Code §19.03(b)

3 Texas Penal Code §19.03(b)

4 Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, Art. 37.071 Sec. 1(b), created by S.B. 719, 86th Texas Legislature, Section 3

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