Homicide is the killing of one human being by another. It is divided into four catergories. First Degree Murder, Second Degree Murder , Voluntary Manslaughter and Involuntary Manslaughter.
Both First Degree and Second Degree Murder require that the defendant had a state of mind called malice aforethought. Malice aforethought can be divided into two categories, express and implied malice. Express malice is the intent to kill. Implied malice means that a defendant intentionally committed an act, the natural and probably consequences of the act were dangerous to human life, at the time the defendant acted, he or she knew of the danger to human life and the defendant deliberately acted with conscious disregard for human life.First Degree Murder requires an additional component, such as the killing was conducted with premeditation and deliberation or that the defendant was lying in wait prior to the homicide. Both First and Second Degree Murder convictions can result in a sentence of life in prison.
Voluntary Manslaughter is when the killing is done in the heat of passion or with imperfect self-defense. Involuntary Manslaughter is when there is no intent to kill and the defendant does not act with conscious disregard for human life.
Different penalties are imposed depending on the severity of the conviction. In other words, there are significant benefits to a manslaughter conviction versus a murder conviction.Christopher Varnell has defended several clients charged with Murder or Manslaughter, negotiated plea agreements where charges were reduced and has conducted jury trials on these charges.
Murder is often mischarged, the wrong person is charged, or can even be justifiable (if done in self defense or defense of others) or excusable (if done by accident). An experienced attorney can guide you through these confusing legal principles. Please contact us for a free consultation.