Being accused of murder is one of the most serious cases one can face. Though many people feel that murder cases should be straightforward, in reality, they are often complicated. Misunderstandings abound in homicide cases, and it is important to have a criminal defense attorney who can properly represent your side of the story in court.
Before you settle on a Granbury murder lawyer, it is important to know what you are up against in court and how the defense may or may not play out in your favor.
It is important to understand that, similar to a DUI or an assault, homicide can be classified in a few different ways. This depends upon the circumstances surrounding the event and how your criminal lawyer chooses to present your experiences.
Homicide cases encompass killings under various circumstances. Homicide is simply the general term used to encompass the act of killing another person. This includes:
The first three bullet points are often easier to argue against, as in some cases, they are categorized as wrongful death cases rather than homicide or murder charges. In fact, the first three bullet points are classified as self-defense or manslaughter, depending on the situation.
The final bullet point, however, is the only situation that can be accurately classified as murder.
Murder charges are unique because they require specific criteria to be classified as such. In order for a situation to be ranked as murder, the following need to be true:
A killing is considered lawful or justifiable if done out of self-defense or defense of another, was done to protect one’s own property or home, or occurred by a police officer in the line of duty.
One of the key indicators of a murder is that it includes “malice aforethought,” or premeditation. This can be misleading because it does not only apply to killings in which the killer planned on committing the crime. Malice aforethought means one of the following has occurred:
As you can see, there are quite a few ways that malice aforethought can be proven. Essentially, it is any situation in which the killer knew, or should have known, that the death would occur.
As you likely know from television shows and news segments, there are different degrees of murder. These degrees indicate lots of things about the act, including premeditation, severity, and other crimes committed simultaneously.
Murder in the first degree means that the killing was premeditated and planned. Many killings that involve jealousy or revenge are classified as first-degree murder. These indicate that the perpetrator set out to kill the victim and succeeded. For example, if a wife intends to kill her husband, collects poison, and administers it strategically, first-degree murder has occurred.
Second-degree murder is a little less severe but no less serious. Murder in the second degree encompasses killings that were not planned beforehand. Stating a bar fight, for example, and killing your opponent in the process would likely be considered second-degree murder. You didn’t go into the bar with the intent to kill, nor did you even participate in the fight with the intent to kill; however, a killing did occur.
Felony murders are killings that occur while committing another felony. For example, if you were to rob a liquor store at gunpoint and end up killing the store clerk in the process, you would be charged with felony murder. Armed robbery is a felony, and you killed someone while committing this felony.
Though there is no one definition of this category, it encompasses seeking out, targeting, and killing a public official, such as a judge, firefighter, or police officer. You will still be charged with one of the above degrees of murder, but you may receive additional punishment for targeting that individual.
In some cases, a killing can occur and be classified as manslaughter. This happens when there was no malice aforethought, as described above. There are three main types of manslaughter:
Here at The Law Firm of William A. Walsh, we specialize in criminal defense, and we also act as a wrongful death lawyer in cases as well. As a Christian company, we believe that everyone deserves a chance at fairness and justice. Just as we have been given second chances through God, we fight for that right for others.
To set up a consultation or for general information about our firm or our services, contact us via our website today.