Texas is one of the states in the Union where the death penalty is in effect. In order to receive the death penalty, one must have committed a so-called “capital” offense, such as capital homicide.
The definition of capital homicide varies between states. According to FindLaw, in order for a homicide to be a capital offense in Texas, the convicted must have committed a specific variety of homicide.
What varieties of homicide are capital?
There are several factors at play when the court decides whether or not a homicide charge should be capital. An example of a capital homicide would be the murder of a public safety officer. This may include murdering a fireman or police officer while they are on duty.
Additionally, if the murder occurs while committing another felonious offense such as arson, kidnapping, or sexual assault, the homicide is capital. Murder-for-hire is another example of capital homicide.If the victim is under the age of 10, the murder is also automatically capital.
Are there any limits on the death penalty?
According to Texas law, individuals under the age of 17 may not be subject to capital punishment. (However, federal law states that the justice system may not execute anybody under the age of 18; this has not ever been an issue in the Texas court system, however.) Additionally, the criminally insane cannot receive the death penalty.
However, even if a murder is potentially a capital offense, this does not mean that the prosecution will decide to seek the death penalty. In Texas, the death penalty is in the form of lethal injection.