The harrowing reality of a homicide charge can extremely difficult for anyone to face. In terms of Pennsylvania law, homicide is one of the most serious charges you can face. There are multiple types of homicide charges you can face. The two main forms of criminal homicide are murder or manslaughter charges. The main distinction lies in the intent, with murder requiring a malicious intent to kill. Whatever homicide charge you are facing, you must treat it with the utmost seriousness.
If you are facing a homicide charge, you should consult with an Allegheny County homicide charge attorney immediately. While your future outlook may seem bleak currently, an experienced attorney can improve you situation. At Stewart, Murray, and Associates (SMA) Law Group, attorneys will approach your case with compassion, holding no judgement for the charges you are facing. By gathering the facts, examining the evidence, and utilizing an understanding of Pennsylvania law, our attorneys will aggressively defend you in attempt to get charges reduced or dropped.
Pennsylvania Homicide Charges
In Pennsylvania, the two most common categories of homicide charges are murder and manslaughter. Murder charges are punished by scaled felonies of the first, second, and third degree. Manslaughter charges are categorized by voluntary and involuntary manslaughter.
Murder charges in Pennsylvania depend on intent. The most serious murder charge in Pennsylvania is murder in the first degree. In order to be charged with first degree murder, it must be proven that the murder was maliciously performed with the intent to kill. For example, premeditation is considered first degree murder.
Second degree murder charges result from killing somebody while in the process of committing a felony. For example, if you were involved in a robbery that resulted in the unlawful homicide of another person, you could be charged with second degree murder.
You can be charged with third degree murder if someone died as a result of intently malicious behavior, even if you had not intended to kill said person. The malicious intent is what often qualifies such a crime as a third degree murder instead of a manslaughter charge.
In Pennsylvania, you can be charged with voluntary manslaughter if somebody is unlawfully killed by your hands. This can occur if you were provoked by passion and without premeditation. On the other hand, involuntary manslaughter can be charged when somebody loses their life because of your negligent or reckless behavior. The most recognized example of involuntary manslaughter is when somebody dies as a result of your decision to drive while intoxicated. The difference in punishment between voluntary and involuntary manslaughter is vast: involuntary manslaughter can result in imprisonment up to five years, voluntary can result in as much as 20 years of jail time.