An individual who is charged with first-degree murder in Texas could face decades in prison or even a death sentence. The severity of the penalty handed down depends on the facts of the case as well as the criminal record of the defendant. Sentences are often more severe for those who committed murder while also committing another offense such as rape or arson.
If a defendant has a prior murder conviction or committed murder while part of a gang, those could also be aggravating factors in a first-degree murder case. Furthermore, the penalties could be enhanced if the victim was a police officer, judge or witness to the murder itself. Other factors could be considered in a case when deciding on the appropriate punishment.
In states that don't allow for the death penalty in a first-degree murder case, life in jail without the possibility of parole can be the alternate sentence. This could also be the sentence imposed if a prosecutor doesn't seek the death penalty. Depending on the facts in a murder proceeding, a defendant could be given a life sentence with the possibility of obtaining parole at some point in the future.
Due to the potential consequences, those who are facing murder charges can benefit from legal representation. An attorney could create a defense to a charge and strive for a favorable outcome in court. In some cases, it may be possible to argue that there were no aggravating factors or that there was no intent to commit murder at all. An attorney might do this by casting doubt on witness testimony or physical evidence introduced during a criminal trial.