Capital Murder is defined by Chapter 19, section 19.03 of the Texas Penal Code. Capital murders occurs when a murder is committed, according to the definition of murder under Chapter 19, section 19.02(b)(1), with one of the following additional criteria:
- The person murders a peace officer or fireman who is acting in the lawful discharge of an official duty and who the person knows is a peace officer or fireman.
- The person intentionally commits the murder in the course of committing or attempting to commit kidnapping, burglary, robbery, aggravated sexual assault, arson, obstruction or retaliation, or terroristic threat.
- The person commits the murder for remuneration or the promise of remuneration or employs another to commit the murder for remuneration or the promise of remuneration.
- The person commits the murder while escaping or attempting to escape from a penal institution.
- The person, while incarcerated in a penal institution, murders another who is employed in the operation of the penal institution; or with the intent to establish, maintain, or participate in a combination or in the profits of a combination.
- The person while incarcerated for an offense under this section or Section 19.02 murders another; or while serving a sentence of life imprisonment or a term of 99 years for an offense murders another.
- The person murders more than one person during the same criminal transaction; during different criminal transactions but the murders are committed pursuant to the same scheme or course of conduct.
- The person murders an individual under 10 years of age.
- the person murders another person in retaliation for or on account of the service or status of the other person as a judge or justice of the supreme court, the court of criminal appeals, a court of appeals, a district court, a criminal district court, a constitutional county court, a statutory county court, a justice court, or a municipal court.
- Capital Murder is the only offense which can be charged as a capital felony in the State of Texas, and if found guilty the defendant can be sentenced to execution.
If the individual is found guilty and the state seeks the death penalty:
- Imprisonment in the institutional division for life without the possibility of parole, or Death
If the individual is found guilty and the state does not seek the death penalty:
- Imprisonment in the institutional division for life without the possibility of parole
- However, an individual under the age of 18 at the time of the offense as well as a certified juvenile are no longer eligible for life without parole.