When someone takes the life of another, regardless of intent or other details surrounding the incident, it is called a homicide. Homicide is not always a crime, such as in cases of self-defense or the state-sanctioned execution of certain convicted criminals. Criminal homicides involve either negligence or willful intent, and range from involuntary manslaughter (killing another motorist in a drunk driving accident, for example) to first-degree murder (stalking and killing a member of a rival gang, for instance). Sentences also vary widely, depending on the severity of the crime and other mitigating factors. For example, some states sentence convicted murderers to death but provide psychiatric treatment to those acquitted by reason of insanity. This section provides in-depth information about homicide in its various forms. If you have specific questions related to your situation you should speak with a local criminal defense attorney.
First Degree Murder Defenses
There are two general categories for murder defenses. One is when a defense attorney tries to show that the prosecution is trying the wrong person and the second is when an attorney admits that the accused murderer killed, but did so in a manner that was justified including self-defense, defense of others, exercise of duty, insanity and more.
First Degree Murder Penalties and Sentences
The possible sentences for first degree murder vary widely by state. However, punishment for first-degree murder is among the most strict that can be handed down by the court. It is one of the few crimes that can be legally punished by death in certain cases. Certain aggravating factors include aspects of the crime, of the defendant, or of the victim(s) will render the defendant eligible for either the death penalty or life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Voluntary Manslaughter Defenses
There are several defenses an attorney can assert to fight a charge of voluntary manslaughter. The most common include self defense ( the killing resulted from a reasonable use of force to resist a reasonable fear of death or bodily harm), defense of others (use of force must be timely and proportional to the threat faced, and the perceived threat of death or bodily harm must be reasonable), and accidental killing (the death occurred as the result of an accident).
How a Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help You
Having an attorney during criminal proceedings is critical for those charged with committing homicide. A murder or manslaughter case can involve hundreds of hours of work for an attorney. It is the job of criminal defense attorneys to represent those charged with crimes in court. Homicide crime penalties can range in severity including years in prison or even death.Your homicide defense attorney's job is to protect your rights and ensure your access to a fair trial. By examining the circumstances surrounding your case and weighing the strength of the evidence against you, your defense lawyer will apply current law, along with previous legal precedent, to your specific situation and use it to devise a solid legal strategy and build the best possible case for acquittal.
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