Subscribe to receive our Floor Reports covering all the action on the Texas House and Senate floor!
Relating to increasing the punishment for certain conduct constituting the offense of murder and providing for the prosecution of that conduct as capital murder.
No significant fiscal implication to the State is anticipated.
SB 719 would increase the age of a victim for which a defendant can be prosecuted for a capital felony from under the age of 10 to under the age of 15. The House committee substitute added a provision stating that a defendant who is found guilty of this offense may not be sentenced to death, and the state may not seek the death penalty, in any case based solely on an offense under this subdivision.
Texas Action is neutral on SB 719. In general, we do not believe that the degree of a murder should be based upon the status of the victim; it is reprehensible to take a life no matter the age. However, we see no reason to oppose changing the arbitrary age at which a murder becomes a capital offense from "under the age of 10" to "under the age of 15."
The provision added by the committee substitute is a positive change in the sense that a defendant may not be sentenced to death based solely on the commission of this offense, and the trier of fact would be able to consider all circumstances and determine a fitting punishment.