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Winston Law PA
561-670-9375

Homicide, Murder, Manslaughter

If you are accused of a homicide, your freedom and life are literally on the line.  You need a knowledgeable and skilled criminal defense attorney fighting on your side.  Homicide is the killing of another human being.

Within the category of Homicide, there are several different crimes:

First Degree Murder (First Degree Premeditated Murder).  To prove the crime of first degree murder, the State must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that:

  • the victim is dead,
  • the death was caused by the criminal act of the defendant, and
  • the killing of the victim was premeditated.

Premeditated killing is defined as a killing after consciously deciding to do so.  There is no fixed period of time between forming the intent to kill and the killing itself.  The intent must be formed before the killing.  First degree murder is a capital felony punishable by the death penalty.

Felony Murder.  To prove the crime of felony murder, the State must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that:

  • the victim is dead,
  • the death occurred as a consequence of and while the defendant was engaged in the commission of a crime, while the defendant was attempting to commit a crime, or was an accomplice of a crime.

Basically, if during the commission of any crime a person dies (whether it be a victim of the crime, passerby, witness or co-defendant), the person committing the underlying crime can be charged with felony murder.  Felony murder is punishable by mandatory life in prison.

Second Degree Murder.  To prove the crime of second degree murder, the State must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that:

  • the victim is dead,
  • the death was caused by the criminal act of the defendant,
  • there was an unlawful killing of the victim by an act imminently dangerous to another and demonstrating a depraved mind without regard for human life.

Second degree murder is a felony punishable by life(PBL) in prison.

Manslaughter.  To prove the crime of manslaughter, the State must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that:

  • the victim is dead,
  • the defendant intentionally caused the death of the victim or the death of the victim was caused by the culpable negligence of the defendant.

Manslaughter is a second degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

Attempted First Degree Murder.  To prove the crime of attempted first degree murder, the State must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that:

  • the defendant did some act intended to cause the death of the victim
  • that act went beyond just thinking about it,
  • that the defendant acted with a premeditated design to kill, and
  • the act would have resulted in the death of the victim that someone prevented from killing the victim or the defendant failed to do so.

Attempted first degree murder is a felony punishable by life (PBL) in prison.

Attempted Second Degree Murder.  To prove the crime of attempted second degree murder, the State must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that:

  • the defendant intentionally committed an act which would have resulted in the death of the victim except that someone prevented the defendant from killing the victim or
  • the defendant failed to do so and the act was immediately dangerous to another and demonstrating a depraved mind without regard for human life.

Attempted second degree murder is a first degree felony punishable by up to 30 years in prison.

If you are arrested or charged with murder, it is important to contact a knowledgeable and skilled criminal defense attorney.  At Winston Law, P.A., we will explore and develop possible defenses such as, the crime was committed in the heat of passion and not premeditated first degree murder, but instead second degree murder, self-defense, misidentification, alibi, justification, or that the cause of death was something other than murder such as an accident.  All of these defenses require extensive preparation and an extremely experienced criminal defense attorney.  As a former Assistant Public Defender, Susan Winston is highly skilled in trial advocacy including pre-trial issues, trial preparation and jury trials.

If you or a loved one have been arrested or are charged with a homicide, please contact Winston Law, P.A. at (561) 670-9375 or susan@winstonlawpa.com for your free consultation.

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