Homicide

Homicide is a legal term that refers to the act of causing someone’s death. Homicide can refer to intentionally killing someone (also known as murder). However, you can also be charged with homicide if you cause someone’s death by mistake as well. There are different degrees of homicide, with different types of penalties for each different type, but all types of homicide can be charged as felonies and can lead to more than a year of jail timeā€¦ and sometimes, much more.

If you or a loved one has been accused of homicide, you must have a lawyer as soon as possible. Your lawyer can argue for bail- which may not always be granted or which may be prohibitively high- and your lawyer can help you to raise a defense, introduce doubt as to your guilt, or plead to lesser charges. The only chance of a favorable outcome from homicide charges is to get the advice of a lawyer, and the experienced criminal defense law firm of Lawrence R. Dworkin can help.

Homicide Crimes

In the state of Pennsylvania, you may be found guilty of homicide if you cause the death of another person. You may face these charges if you intentionally and knowingly cause this death, or if you negligently and recklessly cause this death. There are different charges brought for different types of homicides, depending upon whether you intentionally cause the death or whether you negligently cause the death. Other factors, such as the level of planning that goes into the act that caused the death, can also play a role in determining what charges you face.

The different types of potential homicide charges that may be brought include:

  • First degree murder. First degree murder charges are brought when you intend to cause the death of a victim. The murder must be willful, deliberate and pre-meditated. This means that you must plan in advance and mean to cause death.
  • Second degree murder. Second degree murder charges can be brought when you commit a murder while you are committing another felony or attempting to commit another felony. If you kill someone while you are fleeing from the scene of a felony, this can also lead to second degree murder charges.
  • Third degree murder. Third degree murder charges may be brought if you behave with reckless disregard for the value of human life and you cause a death as a result.
  • Voluntary manslaughter. Voluntary manslaughter charges are brought if you are provoked into causing the death, but if you act without actual legal justification (i.e. if you aren’t acting in self defense, but something happens that causes you to feel a sudden and intense urge to kill). Voluntary manslaughter charges may, for example, be brought against you if you kill your abusive husband at a time when he is sleeping (as opposed to when he is abusing you, in which case you might be able to avoid conviction through proving self defense).
  • Involuntary manslaughter. Involuntary manslaughter charges are brought against you if you cause a death while doing a grossly negligent act.

How a Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Help

When you are facing charges for a homicide crime, you may be going to jail for a long time if convicted- especially if you are accused of murder. However, there are many different defenses you can raise and many ways that a criminal defense attorney can help you. For instance, your criminal defense lawyer may be able to prove lack of intent, or self defense. Your attorney may also be able to introduce reasonable doubt as to your guilt, which can result in an acquittal since the prosecutor has the burden of proving your guilt. Finally, a criminal defense lawyer may be able to help you to plead down to lesser charges, such as accepting a voluntary manslaughter conviction instead of a charge of murder.

The right course of action when facing homicide charges is going to depend on your particular circumstances and the evidence that the prosecutor has, as well as the potential defenses available to you. To learn more about how you can achieve the most favorable outcome if you or a loved one is facing homicide charges, contact the criminal defense law firm of Lawrence R. Dworkin today at 610-566-0610 or using our online form.

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