People often talk about homicide and murder as if they are the same thing. While both are used to describe the death of one person at the hands of another, they are very different in legal terms. Homicide is a generic term meaning that one person is responsible for another’s death. Sometimes, such as in self-defense cases, it may not even be illegal. These cases are often called justifiable, excusable or non-criminal homicide.
The primary factors of intent and the circumstances determine how one will be charged. Violent crimes like manslaughter and murder carry considerable penalties, and you’ll need a seasoned criminal defense lawyer. Attorney Dean Phillips can evaluate your case and establish an appropriate defense based on your intent and circumstances.
Homicide by degrees of severity
Murder is always illegal homicide. It implies, and the prosecutor will attempt to prove, that the defendant not only committed the crime, but also acted with malicious intent or criminal negligence (guilty act, guilty mind). Homicide is further classified by degree:
- First-degree murder is pre-meditated, committed with “cruelty aforethought.” In some states, even unintentional murder may be charged as first-degree if it occurred during a crime like rape, kidnapping, robbery, or arson.
- Second-degree murder is caused by dangerous acts or conduct.
- Manslaughter can be voluntary or involuntary homicide.
- Voluntary manslaughter is the intentional, yet spontaneous killing of another. For example, killing someone in the “heat of passion.” Note that you cannot just claim passion; the situation leading up to the death must be one that would emotionally or mentally unhinge a reasonable person. Some states use the term third-degree murder.
- Involuntary manslaughter is sometimes called criminally negligent homicide. It is usually the charge if you unintentionally kill someone through an unlawful or reckless act. For example, causing a fatal car accident while driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is criminally negligent homicide. You can also be charged with involuntary manslaughter if someone dies because of your excessive level of negligence in performing a lawful act.
Another situation that constitutes a felony charge is assisting someone with his or her suicide. This charge can result in imprisonment between one and ten years.
The consequences of a conviction are significant. Murder draws the most serious punishment because society regards it as a terrible crime. A conviction may result in a prison sentence for life, a life sentence without parole, or possibly your death.
If you do receive less than a life sentence, then you may find it very difficult to get a job or find a place to live when you get out. You will also have lost some of the basic rights of citizenship, such as the right to vote and own a gun.
What Attorney Dean Phillips Can Do for You
Hiring a skilled criminal defense lawyer is essential when you’ve been accused of homicide. Attorney Dean Phillips will defend your rights and fight for your best possible outcome in court.
Dean Phillips will:
• Make an effective argument for the dropping or reduction of charges
• Investigate every aspect of the case
• Challenge prosecutor’s evidence
• Negotiate for a plea if appropriate
• Obtain for bail
• Strategize jury selection
• Be prepared to fight vigorously in court
And, if you are found guilty, Attorney Dean Phillips will:
• Present mitigating factors that might reduce your sentence
• Appeal your case
• Represent you at parole hearings
If you’ve been charged with murder, contact our criminal defense attorney for an immediate review of your case. Mr. Phillips can represent you in Marietta, Cobb County, Paulding County, Bartow County, Acworth, Austell, Powder Springs, Smyrna, Kennesaw and Woodstock. For a free consultation for your criminal defense case, call 770-415-0933.