Make no mistake, if charged (or even suspected) of committing a homicide, one of the first responses must include hiring an experienced homicide attorney to adequately assist and prepare the defense.
At the risk of stating the obvious, being charged with homicide is a very serious offense with very serious consequences. Unlike other crimes such as assault or theft, homicides are different because another person has died. As a result, situations involving homicides tend to receive increased public attention. This creates additional pressure for law enforcement and prosecutors to resolve the case. Overall, in homicide cases, law enforcement is very motivated to not only obtain a conviction but also put the culprit behind bars.
What is homicide?
To be found guilty of a homicide, the prosecution must prove the accused committed an action, which had the effect of killing another person. The prosecution must also prove the accused acted with the requisite mental state, usually an intentional or knowing act.
In Missouri, a homicide charge can fall into one of three categories:
- Class A felonies apply to all situations involving intentional murder with the punishment resulting in either the death penalty or life imprisonment
- Class B felonies apply to situations involving voluntary manslaughter with a punishment ranging from five to fifteen years in prison
- Class C felonies apply to situations involving involuntary manslaughter, with possible punishments including a maximum sentence of seven years in prison and/or a maximum fine of $5000
Help from a homicide attorney
So how can a Springfield homicide attorney help the defense? An experienced homicide attorney better understands the complicated web of possible charges the prosecutor will consider. This includes which evidence is relevant and admissible; which extenuating circumstances are relevant; which factors should be offered to the court in an attempt to lower the charge; and the entire judicial process of how a criminal trial proceeds.
In addition, homicide attorneys understand which defenses apply to each felony homicide charge. Some defenses include actual innocence, self-defense, accidental or involuntary homicide, mistaken identity, and acting under the influence of sudden passion. Along the same lines, a homicide attorney can identify the factors that might lessen the prosecutor’s charge such as mental or emotional state at the time and other possible extenuating factors.
Finally, a homicide attorney can provide advice and reassurance throughout the entire process. Before trial, the prosecutor might offer other options instead of a trial. However, in these situations, the prosecutor holds most of the cards. A homicide attorney can help even the playing field by understanding the options and better negotiate a plea bargain, all while implementing a particular strategy. Help yourself. If faced with this situation, hire a homicide attorney. Without proper representation at trial or even the plea bargain negotiation process, small mistakes can have very costly consequences, which unfortunately can include: life in prison, or even capital punishment.
For more information or to schedule a consultation with us, call our Springfield office at (417) 865-2181.
NOTE: This is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.
Check out what others are saying about our services on Yelp: Read our Yelp reviews.