Beaver County homicide/manslaughter charges attorneys know that police and prosecutors do not like unsolved murders. They also do not like to look like they are going light on someone or like they are not doing their jobs when they fail to bring charges in a high profile death case. For these reasons, sometimes prosecutors file charges in cases to protect their record and reputation. They may cave under pressure to close a case and file charges even when they know there may not be enough evidence for a conviction or when they themselves are not even convinced of the defendant’s guilt.
Unfortunately, when criminal homicide charges are filed against an innocent defendant, the defendant and his or her family end up paying the price of the emotional stress and devastation that often goes along with defending homicide charges. In these cases the defendant may be completely innocent of all charges or they may be charged with a crime much more severe than they deserve to be charged with.
Criminal homicide charges
Under Pennsylvania law, criminal homicide charges include the following:
1st degree murder when a killing is intentional.
2nd degree murder when a killing occurs during the commission of a felony.
3rd degree murder is other types of murder that do not fall under 1st or 2nd degree.
Voluntary manslaughter occurs when a person kills someone else when acting under a sudden intense passion provoked by the person he or she kills or in the case where the defendant intends to kill that person, but someone else is accidentally or negligently killed instead. Involuntary manslaughter may also occur when a person kills someone else under an unreasonable belief that the killing is justified.
Involuntary manslaughter occurs when someone’s death is caused by another person’s reckless or grossly negligent conduct.
Pennsylvania law also addresses criminal homicide charges related to the death of a police officer, drug delivery resulting in death, and causing, aiding, or assisting a suicide.
Defenses to manslaughter and murder charges
Common defenses to criminal homicide charges that defendants may raise in order to argue for a reduction in charges or a not guilty verdict are described below.
- Self defense
- Defense of others
- Accidental death
- Crime of passion
- Mistake of fact
- Defendant did not do it
- Someone else did it
Negotiating with prosecutors
Criminal defense attorneys at SMT Legal are experienced negotiators and they know common prosecutor tactics. Sometimes prosecutors bring the most serious charges against a defendant in order to pressure him or her to plead to a lesser charge. Sometimes, as previously mentioned, prosecutors charge a person with criminal homicide because they are feeling pressure from others to do so. Our attorneys can spot these and other common prosecutor actions and they will use this to their client’s advantage when negotiating with prosecutors for a reduction or dismissal of charges.