Murder in the Third Degree in Pennsylvania
Facing Third Degree Murder Charges in Pennsylvania
Learn about what third degree murder is in Pennsylvania and what to do if you or a loved one is facing accusations or criminal homicide charges. Facing third degree 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 third degree 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 Third Degree Murder Charges
Reach out to the Ciccarelli Legal Team, when you are facing a third degree 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.
Information on a Chester County Third Degree Murder Charge
The definition of murder in the third degree in the state of Pennsylvania is the killing of another human being which does not meet the requirements of first-degree or second-degree murder.
There are currently only three states in the United States which have a category of murder known as third-degree murder. These states are Florida, Minnesota and Pennsylvania.
Malice aforethought—premeditation with malice—is not a required mental state in murder in the third degree charges, however “malice” in and of itself is still a requirement. The standard of “malice” required for a conviction of murder in the third degree is the same as that required for a conviction of aggravated assault. This means it must be more than negligence or recklessness and must disregard the threat posed to human life by the conduct exhibited. Charges of murder in the third degree in the state of Pennsylvania are extremely serious, as a conviction can result in up to forty years in prison. Third-degree murder statutes were introduced in the state of Pennsylvania in a 1974 amendment, at the same time second-degree murder was redefined as felony murder.
In some instances, a defense of diminished capacity can reduce first-degree murder charges to third-degree murder charges. In short, if you are being charged with murder in the third-degree, you took the life of another person in a way that was not necessarily intentional and was not perpetrated while you committed a felony offense. As an example, if you knowingly give or sell someone a controlled substance that you know to be dangerous in some way, and the person dies as a result of using that drug, you could potentially be charged with third-degree murder.
Conspiracy to Commit Third-Degree Murder
Several years ago, Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court dealt with a particularly puzzling issue, which was whether a person can be found guilty of conspiracy to commit-third-degree murder. On its face, a person could not intend to commit an unintentional killing. After carefully considering the language of the statutes of Pennsylvania, the Supreme Court found that such a charge is actually possible. While one appeal argued that since conspiracy is a specific intent crime and third-degree murder does not include specific intent, there could be no conspiracy to commit third-degree murder.
The court read the statute a little more broadly, stating that since the statute is silent regarding required mental state, the requisite mental state must then be intentional, knowing or reckless. Taking a step from this conclusion, conspiracy to commit third-degree murder is possible, since you can intend to kill another human being in a reckless manner. In other words, since third-degree murder is one which is committed intentionally, knowingly or recklessly, conspiracy to commit third-degree murder is not as “paradoxical” as it may sound.
Defenses to Charges of Third-Degree Murder
Like first and second-degree murder charges, there may be specific defenses your attorney can employ on your behalf for your third-degree murder charges. Perhaps you are actually innocent of the crime. You may have a solid alibi which will show you could not have committed the third-degree murder or if you were identified as the murderer by a witness, that witness may have misidentified you. Or, perhaps you are not asserting that you did not commit the crime, rather are saying you had some type of justification. You may have acted in self-defense if you committed the act of murder to protect your own life or the life of another. If so, your charges may be reduced to a lesser charge, or dropped altogether.
Your attorney will determine the best defense on your behalf, based on the facts and circumstances of your case, however it is extremely important that you speak to a knowledgeable Pennsylvania criminal defense attorney as soon as possible after you have been charged with third-degree murder. The sooner your attorney is on your case, the more likely you are to have the most positive outcome possible to your third-degree murder charges. Your attorney will consider the evidence the prosecution has, determining the best way to have that evidence discredited or thrown out entirely. Once all discovery items have been carefully considered, a defense will be crafted which is the most likely to present you in a positive light to the jurors and allowing you to escape a sentence of up to forty years in prison.
Get The “Right Defense” When facing Pennsylvania Third Degree Murder Charges
When you or a loved one is facing third degree 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.