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Attorney Brad Thornton is a highly experienced and Board-Certified criminal defense lawyer. With his background as a former Chief Prosecutor, he has a unique understanding of the criminal justice system and is able to provide comprehensive and effective representation to his clients. He is also deeply committed to ensuring that all individuals receive fair treatment in court, regardless of their background or circumstances.
Brad Thornton is dedicated to helping his clients achieve the best possible outcome for their case, whether it is in San Antonio or elsewhere in South Texas. He recognizes the stress and anxiety that can come with being accused of a crime, and approaches his clients with compassion while keeping them informed at every step of the process. His knowledge and experience make him a strong advocate for his clients.
Texas Penal Code § 19.03 - CAPITAL MURDER
Capital Murder in San Antonio, Texas
Explaining the Different Types of Homicide in Texas
In Texas, there are four main types of homicide: murder, capital murder, manslaughter, and criminally negligent homicide.
Murder is the unlawful killing of another person with malice aforethought, which means that the person was killed with the intention to cause harm or with reckless disregard for human life. Murder is a first-degree felony in Texas and is punishable by 5 to 99 years in prison.
Manslaughter is the unlawful killing of another person without malice aforethought. There are two types of manslaughter in Texas: voluntary manslaughter and involuntary manslaughter. Voluntary manslaughter is when a person intentionally or knowingly causes the death of another person in the heat of passion. Involuntary manslaughter is when a person unintentionally causes the death of another person while committing a crime that is not a felony. Both types of manslaughter are second-degree felonies in Texas and are punishable by 2 to 20 years in prison.
Criminal negligent homicide is the unlawful killing of another person through criminal negligence. Criminal negligence is when a person fails to perceive a substantial and unjustifiable risk that their actions will cause the death of another person. Criminal negligent homicide is a state jail felony in Texas and is punishable by 180 days to 2 years in a state jail facility.
Capital murder is the most serious type of murder charge in the state of Texas. It is defined as an intentional murder that is committed under certain circumstances, such as:
The murder was committed while committing another felony, such as robbery or kidnapping.
The victim was a law enforcement officer or fireman who was acting in the course of their duties.
The victim was a public servant, such as a judge or prosecutor, who was killed while performing their official duties.
The victim was a witness to a crime and was killed to prevent them from testifying.
The victim was a person under the age of six years old.
The murder was committed for the purpose of avoiding or preventing a lawful arrest, or to escape custody after having been arrested.
The murder was committed in a prison or jail.
If a person is charged with capital murder, they are not eligible for parole and will either receive a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole or the death penalty. The decision of whether to seek the death penalty is made by the prosecutor and is based on numerous factors, such as the severity of the crime and the defendant's criminal history.
If a person is charged and convicted of capital murder, they are not eligible for parole and will either receive a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole or the death penalty. The decision of whether to seek the death penalty is made by the prosecutor and is based on various factors, such as the severity of the crime and the defendant's criminal history.
Defenses to Capital Murder in Texas
The insanity defense is a defense to criminal charges in Texas that is based on the idea that the defendant was unable to understand the nature and consequences of their actions at the time the crime was committed. To use the insanity defense, the defendant must present evidence that they were suffering from a severe mental disease or defect at the time of the crime that prevented them from understanding that their actions were wrong.
The insanity defense is not often successful in Texas, and it is rarely used in capital murder cases. If the defense is successful, the defendant will not be found guilty of the crime and will be committed to a mental health facility for treatment. If the defense is not successful, the defendant will be found guilty and will be sentenced according to the penalties for the crime they were charged with.
In Texas, self-defense is a defense to criminal charges that can be raised by a defendant who claims that they acted in self-defense when they committed a crime. To successfully raise the defense of self-defense, the defendant must show that they reasonably believed that they were in imminent danger of harm, that they did not provoke the confrontation, and that they had no reasonable means of retreat. If the defendant can show all these things, they may be able to avoid criminal liability for their actions.
In Texas, the defense of others is a defense to criminal charges that can be raised by a defendant who claims that they acted in defense of someone else. To successfully raise the defense of others, the defendant must show that they reasonably believed that the person they were defending was in imminent danger of harm, that they did not provoke the confrontation, and that they had no reasonable means of retreat. If the defendant can show all these things, they may be able to avoid criminal liability for their actions.
Level of Offense
State Jail Felony
Class A Misdemeanor
Class B Misdemeanor
2 - 10 years in prison
180 days - 2 years in jail
Up to 1 year in jail
Up to 180 days in jail
2 - 20 years in prison
5 - 99 years in prison
Up to $10,000
Up to $10,000
Up to $10,000
Up to $10,000
Up to $4,000
Up to $2,000
Two Phases of a Capital Murder Trial in Texas
In Texas, a capital murder trial is divided into two phases: the guilt phase and the punishment phase.
During the guilt phase, the prosecution presents its case against the defendant and tries to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty of capital murder. The defense may also present evidence and argue that the defendant is not guilty. At the end of the guilt phase, the jury must decide whether the defendant is guilty or not guilty of capital murder.
If the jury finds the defendant guilty of capital murder, the trial proceeds to the punishment phase. During the punishment phase, the prosecution and the defense present evidence and argue for or against the imposition of the death penalty. The jury must then decide whether the defendant should be sentenced to death or life in prison without parole.
It is important to note that in Texas, a defendant can be convicted of capital murder only if a jury reaches a unanimous verdict of guilt during the guilt phase. If the jury is unable to reach a unanimous verdict, the trial will result in a mistrial and the prosecution may decide to retry the case.
"Special Issues" During the Sentencing Phase of Trial
In the sentencing phase of a capital murder trial in Texas, the prosecution must present evidence of what are known as "special issues" to the jury to seek the death penalty. These special issues are:
whether there is a probability that the defendant would commit criminal acts of violence that would constitute a continuing threat to society; and
whether, taking into consideration all the evidence, including the circumstances of the offense, the defendant’s character and background, and the personal moral culpability of the defendant, there is a sufficient mitigating circumstance or circumstances to warrant that a sentence of life imprisonment without parole rather than a death sentence be imposed.
The prosecution must prove each of these special issues beyond a reasonable doubt to seek the death penalty. If the jury finds that any one of these special issues has been proven, they may impose a sentence of death. If the jury does not find that any of these special issues have been proven, they must impose a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.
If the Prosecution alleges in the guilt/innocence phase of trial that the defendant was a party to the murder, there are additional special issues that the jury must consider in the sentencing phase. These issues are:
whether the defendant actually caused the death of the deceased;
if the defendant didn’t directly kill the deceased but intended to or that he intended to kill another;
if the defendant didn’t directly kill the deceased but knew that someone would likely be killed.
Sudden passion is a defense to the charge of murder that does not negate the accused’s guilt but rather reduces the punishment for the offense to that of a second-degree felony. The defense is based on the idea that the defendant acted under the influence of a sudden passion arising from an adequate cause, such as extreme anger or fear.
To use the defense of sudden passion, the defendant must show that they were provoked by the victim or by circumstances that would have caused a reasonable person to act impulsively. The provocation must have been sufficient to arouse an intense passion in the defendant, and the defendant must have acted immediately upon the provocation.
If the defense of sudden passion is successful, the charge of murder will be reduced to a second-degree felony, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
Capital Murder Attorney in San Antonio, Texas
If you have been charged with capital murder in San Antonio, Texas, it is crucial that you have an experienced and skilled attorney to represent you. Board Certified Attorney Brad Thornton is a highly qualified lawyer who has the knowledge and expertise to defend you against these serious charges.
Mr. Thornton is a board-certified criminal law specialist, which means that he has been recognized by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization as having a high level of expertise in criminal law. In addition to his legal knowledge and experience, Mr. Thornton is also known for his compassion and dedication to his clients. He will work tirelessly to protect your rights and defend you against the charges you are facing. If you are facing a capital murder charge in San Antonio, it is in your best interest to contact Mr. Thornton as soon as possible to discuss your options and begin building your defense.
San Antonio Criminal Defense Attorney Brad Thornton has spent years in court rooms fighting for justice. As a prosecutor, Brad was a leader on cases ranging from marijuana to murder from arrest to appeal. Who better to fight for your rights than someone who knows the "other side" and has tried the toughest of cases out there. Put his experience and knowledge to work for you.
If you need a criminal lawyer, Brad Thornton is an excellent choice. He is intelligent, trustworthy, and highly professional, with an amazing understanding of the law.
Choosing the right lawyer can shape the rest of your life, so make sure to make the right decision and choose Brad Thornton.
San Antonio, Texas
I have had the opportunity to know Brad both personally and professionally for a while now. As a fellow attorney, I am consistently impressed by his passion and innovative approach to legal issues. He is exceptionally intelligent and is always willing to go above and beyond for his clients. When I refer clients to Brad, I have full confidence that they will receive top-quality representation.
San Antonio, Texas
We recently faced a stressful family matter and turned to Brad for legal guidance. He was extremely compassionate and helped us understand our options and the legal process in an easy-to-follow way. We are thrilled with the outcome of our case and are grateful to Brad for his help. Thank you!
San Antonio, Texas
I cannot emphasize enough how understanding and compassionate Brad Thornton was during a difficult situation. He helped us navigate the legal aspects of our case and provided us with a clear understanding of our options. I highly recommend Brad Thornton for anyone in need of legal representation.