Defenses Against Murder Charges in Pennsylvania
Charges of murder—whether first-degree, second-degree or third-degree—in the state of Pennsylvania are very serious, with extremely serious penalties, ranging from up to twenty years in prison to life in prison, and even the death penalty. Murder, or homicide, is the unlawful killing of another human being. Generally speaking, murder is considered a voluntary, premeditated act, while manslaughter is typically not a premeditated act.
Learn about murder charges in Pennsylvania and what to do if you or a loved one is facing accusations or criminal homicide charges. Facing murder is a pivotable moment in a person’s life. Is it the time to reach out to an inexperienced criminal attorney or a former prosecutor who touts his convictions but lacks experience gaining murder acquittals? Before it’s too late, call our team. Facing murder charges anywhere in Pennsylvania and need help, call the Ciccarelli Legal Team at (610) 692-8700.
Getting the Best Defense where you are facing Murder Charges
Reach out to the Ciccarelli Legal Team, when you are facing a murder in the greater Philadelphia metro area, including Chester County, Bucks County, Delaware County, Lancaster County, Montgomery County and throughout Pennsylvania. Then ask yourself, why you are not calling now and scheduling a time to meet with our team. Call now at (610) 692-8700.
Our team of lawyers at Ciccarelli Law Offices is ready to fight for you. When the threat of prosecution for homicide and murder is real, you need to look for the best options and find a top murder defense team serving Chester County and beyond. Based in West Chester (Chester County) in the Philadelphia Metro Area, the Ciccarelli Legal Team defends the rights of murder and homicide defendants throughout Pennsylvania.
Facing Murder Charges in Chester County Pennsylvania
If you have been charged with capital murder in the state of Pennsylvania—a charge which carries the potential of a death sentence, the state requires that a certified Pennsylvania death-penalty attorney defend you. As your attorney discovers the facts and circumstances surrounding your charges, a defense strategy will emerge—every criminal prosecution is different from another, and the criminal defense strategy will depend on the situation.
The truth is not always black and white and multiple versions of the truth may exist during a criminal prosecution. As such, it is imperative that a murder defendant remain truthful with his or her attorney. Anything that could potentially have a bearing on the case must be shared honestly and openly with the legal team. Even when a defendant is guilty of the killing of another human being, depicting the story in a more favorable light could lead to a plea bargain, or being found guilty of a lesser charge, meaning lesser penalties.
While it sounds almost like sleight of hand, a criminal defense attorney and a prosecutor can both use the same foundation of factual events, yet conclude two entirely different scenarios. Being able to remain truthful, while presenting the facts in a different light can result in empathy from jurors or the judge, while explaining the “why” behind the events which occurred, can offer some measure of justification on the part of the defendant. Generally, defendants in a murder case either admit the crime, completely deny the crime, or “admit and explain” the crime (somewhere between a denial and a confession, and usually containing some measure of legal justification for the murder). The attorney must then work with what the defendant has admitted to, denied or admitted with an explanation.
In a murder case, the purpose of a defense is generally not to completely remove the charges, rather to reduce the most serious level of murder to a lesser murder level. As an example, the goal of an attorney defending a person charged with first-degree murder (which can carry the death penalty upon conviction) would be to have those charges dropped to second or even third-degree murder. The attorney for a person charged with second or third-degree murder would seek to have the charges dropped to voluntary or involuntary manslaughter. The most common defenses for the crime of murder include:
- Justifiable homicide—a justifiable homicide is one which is excused under the law, because the defendant was defending himself or herself, defending others (self-defense), was defending his or her property or was attempting to prevent a crime. Self-defense is either “perfect” self-defense, meaning the defendant acted out of an honest, reasonable believe that the killing was necessary to defend himself or herself, or imperfect self-defense, meaning the defendant believed self-defense was necessary, but a reasonable person would believe otherwise. If defense of property is claimed, it must be shown the life of the property owner was threatened.
- Defendant is unable to understand the duty to not take a life. This inability to understand the duty to not take a life could be due to insanity, intoxication or diminished capacity. While this defense does not necessarily excuse a murder, it could reduce the murder charges to voluntary or involuntary manslaughter.
- Lack of intent—the burden of proof in a murder case lies on the prosecution, and one of the primary elements in a murder case includes intent on the defendant’s part to take the life of the victim. Perhaps the killing was not intentional, rather was accidental and there was no intent to kill.
- Actual innocence—While it may seem hard to wrap your mind around, innocent people are charged with criminal acts, including murder. Perhaps an eyewitness mistakenly identified the defendant, or perhaps the defendant was somewhere else at the time of the murder. If the defendant charged with murder is actually innocent, the attorney will do everything in his or her power to show why the defendant could not have committed the murder.
- Violation of Constitutional Rights—Although rare in a murder case, there may have been an illegal search and seizure or the defendant may not have been read his or her Miranda rights before being questioned. A confession may have been illegally obtained, after keeping the defendant in a room for hours and hours. Any or all of these issues are violations of a person’s Constitutional rights, and the attorney will bring these violations out in court.
Get The “Right Defense” When facing Pennsylvania Murder Charges
When you or a loved one is facing murder allegations or charges, gain the benefit and experience of the Ciccarelli Legal Team. We bring years of experience defending clients, demanding justice and fighting for acquittals. Our team is ready to represent you when you are facing homicide and murder charges in Pennsylvania. We are based in based in suburban Philadelphia and serve clients throughout Pennsylvania. Contact us at (610) 692-8700.