What is Criminal Homicide?
There is no offense more serious than a criminal homicide. This crime involves taking another human’s life, and so it involves the most serious penalties under Pennsylvania law. There are three main categories of homicide: murder, manslaughter, and justifiable homicide. We will help you to better understand the various types of charges you may face if you have been involved in a criminal homicide in Pennsylvania.
If the death of a victim was intentional or the byproduct of another crime, you will likely be charged with murder. However, murder charges fall under various degrees:
- First-degree Murder occurs when it is proven that a murder was premeditated, and that the offender had every intention to commit a homicide from the beginning of the crime’s conception. First-degree murder is the most serious of all homicide charges and often results in life in prison or death by lethal injection.
- Second-degree Murder is committed when the murder someone occurs while in the process of committing a separate crime. These other crimes often include robbery, kidnapping, and rape. Often, a second-degree murder was foreseeable before the homicide occurred, but not fully premeditated. This type of murder can also lead to life in prison.
- Third-degree Murder is a category that covers all other types of murder that cannot be classified as first or second degree. These murders can result in various lengthy prison sentences, depending on the crime.
The key difference between murder and manslaughter is that manslaughter lacks intent and/or premeditation. There are two types of manslaughter, voluntary and involuntary.
- Voluntary Manslaughter occurs if you commit a homicide in a fit of rage. You did not plan to murder anyone, but you were provoked or overly passionate in the moment of the crime, causing someone’s death. Voluntary manslaughter charges can lead to a maximum of 20 years in jail.
- Involuntary Manslaughter is constituted if you acted recklessly, and your careless actions led to the death of another person. In other words, the death was accidental, but you caused the accident. In Pennsylvania, involuntary manslaughter can be sentenced with up to 5 years in prison.
A justifiable homicide is a classification reserved for a homicide committed out of necessity, such as self-defense. In these cases, an individual is using the defense that violent action was necessary in order to protect yourself or someone else from imminent bodily harm. A justifiable homicide is often not classified as an actual crime, and you will not be held criminally liable.
The Best Defense for Criminal Homicide
If you have been charged with a criminal homicide, getting the best criminal defense attorney in PA is the key to defending yourself and protecting your freedoms in the most serious of criminal homicide cases. Do not wait another minute to contact us to discuss your criminal homicide charges today.