R. Todd Bennett, P.C.
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Voluntary manslaughter defenses in Texas

In Texas, voluntary manslaughter charges are quite serious, bringing the potential for very long prison sentences if the charges result in convictions. There are several defenses available to people who are charged with voluntary manslaughter, however.

Obviously, the best possible defense to a voluntary manslaughter charge is that the person is actually innocent of the crime. People may assert this defense by presenting evidence of an alibi. They may also challenge the validity of the prosecution's evidence in the case, such as by presenting DNA evidence or attacking faulty identifications. Arguing self-defense only works in a voluntary manslaughter case if the self-defense was perfect. In other words, people must show that the decedent was the aggressor and that the defendant acted reasonably due to a fear of possible imminent death or serious bodily injury.

Demonstrating that the death of the decedent was an accident and not the result of a voluntary choice can help secure a reduction in charges from voluntary to involuntary manslaughter. A person who was legally insane at the time the manslaughter occurred may also be found not guilty by reason of insanity. Intoxication will not be a defense to a voluntary manslaughter charge unless the defendant's intoxication was itself involuntary.

The specific defenses that will be raised in a voluntary manslaughter case largely depend on the relevant facts and circumstances of what occurred. People who are charged with voluntary manslaughter may want to discuss the possible defenses with their criminal defense attorney. Legal counsel may be better able to identify the best possible defense in a specific case and then develop a comprehensive strategy incorporating it.

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