Sudden Passion Murder

In certain circumstances, it may be possible to lessen the severity of a murder conviction. The law has long recognized that intensely emotional situations may lead to immediate irrational behavior. While this behavior cannot be excused entirely, a finding of sudden passion can lead to more lenient punishment. Sudden Passion It is important to note that sudden passion is not a defense to a murder charge. In fact, the discussion of whether sudden passion existed is not brought up until after the defendant is convicted. Under Texas law, during the punishment stage of the trial, the defendant may introduce evidence that the death was caused under the immediate influence of sudden passion arising from an adequate cause. If this is proven by a preponderance of evidence, the murder is a second-degree, rather than a first-degree felony. The difference is significant as a first-degree murder is punishable by a mandatory minimum prison sentence of five years and a potential maximum sentence of up to 99 years. A second-degree felony has a mandatory minimum of two years, with a potential maximum of 20 years. These issues are called mitigation issues and can often be the most important of a murder case. “Sudden passion” is defined as passion directly caused by the individual killed or another acting with the person killed, and which arises at the time of the offense and is not solely the result of former provocation. The example most commonly used is a person who finds a spouse in bed […]