A fight between two men in an apartment in South Houston, Texas, ended with one man dead and the other in police custody on a criminal charge. According to the police investigation of the incident, officers went to the apartment in response to reports of a fight at a party. Police found a 58-year old man who they believe struck his head when he fell after being hit by the 39-year old suspect. The injured man died after police took him to a hospital.
The suspect was arrested in a field near the apartment where he fled after the fight. The man struggled with police, who sprayed him several times with pepper spray before subduing him. He faces assault charges in connection with the fight at the apartment and aggravated assault for the struggle with the police in which one officer was injured.
This story illustrates a common situation occurring when police make an arrest in a criminal case involving a violent crime. If police make an arrest before the victim’s subsequent death, prosecutors could elect to file an additional felony charge of murder or manslaughter in lieu of the original assault charge stemming from the fight at the apartment. The key factor in determining which, if any, criminal charge is filed after the death of the victim depends on the results of the police investigation.
Protecting the rights of an accused individual should begin as early in the criminal case as possible. Early involvement of a criminal defense attorney in a case could provide the attorney with the opportunity to negotiate a plea with prosecutors before they make a decision to file a more serious criminal charge.
Source: Click2Houston.com, “Suspect charged in man’s death,” August 15, 2012