A murder or manslaughter charge is a serious offense that can result in permanent consequences. Media attention can often turn the public against you, making it unsafe for you and your family. If convicted, you could spend many years in prison. If you are released, you’ll also have difficulty finding a job and a place to live.
Call 207-283-6400 NOW for a FREE consultation with an experienced Maine murder defense attorney!
Instead of trusting your defense to a lawyer who doesn’t understand the system, choose a Maine criminal defense attorney with the experience, skills, and resources to mount the best possible defense given the facts in your case. Contact the Webb Law Firm by calling 207-283-6400 to speak with a Maine criminal defense lawyer. All criminal charges are serious — don’t risk your freedom and your future by waiting to get help.
The Difference Between Murder and Manslaughter
A person who is accused of killing someone can be charged with either murder or manslaughter. The distinction between the two charges can be difficult to understand. Murder is defined by the intent of the person who allegedly committed the crime. If the state can prove that you specifically intended to kill another person that is known as express malice. Implied malice refers to someone who acted in a dangerous way and knew their actions were dangerous but disregarded the consequences. The presence of either type of malice results in a murder charge. The prosecutor must be able to prove malice in order for you to be convicted of murder.
Manslaughter is defined as killing someone without malice. You may be charged with manslaughter if you kill someone in the heat of the moment or because you were provoked. In some cases, when malice is not clear, a criminal defense lawyer may be able to plead down the charge to manslaughter.
Degrees of Murder
Murder may be committed in either the first degree or second degree. First-degree murder is an act that was committed willfully and with pre-meditation. The job of the prosecutor is to prove the accused planned to commit the murder beforehand. The term “with deliberation” may be used, which means the person thought about the action and the consequences and still chose to act. Second-degree murder is a lesser charge, but it still requires the person to commit an intentional and willful act that results in the death other another person. The act may not have been planned ahead of time, but the accused knew what he was doing and continued with the action.
Types of Manslaughter
Manslaughter is also broken down into two categories: voluntary and involuntary. Voluntary manslaughter occurs when a person’s direct action harms another person and leads to that person’s death. An argument or fight may precipitate voluntary manslaughter because the person is led by his emotions. A second situation called imperfect self-defense occurs when the person believes he is defending himself but his fears are unreasonable. This is different from actual self-defense in which the danger is real.
Involuntary manslaughter occurs when a person’s negligent actions cause another person’s death. The person was aware that his actions were negligent but chose to continue with the action. A prime example is a person driving a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs which results in a fatal collision.
Defending Murder and Manslaughter
A person accused of either crime needs an experienced Maine criminal defense attorney immediately. The first step for a criminal defense attorney is to determine whether the person should plead guilty or not guilty. If the accused is innocent, an attorney works with him to prove his innocence. The task for the attorney is to refute any evidence the prosecution has accumulated in order to cast reasonable doubt that the person committed the crime.
If the person did kill someone, the attorney has to determine if he can plead to a lesser charge. Changing a charge from murder to manslaughter requires the attorney to prove the person’s state of mind at the time of the event. This is a difficult task, but an experienced criminal defense lawyer may be able to use the available evidence to convince a jury that the person’s mental state at the time the crime was not to commit murder.
Murder trials can take months or even years to reach a final result. An attorney has a complex task before them, starting with the arraignment for bail and continuing with a thorough investigation into the crime. Even after a guilty verdict is handed down, an attorney may begin the appeal process to have the verdict reversed. Enough new evidence must be gathered to warrant an appeal and an attorney who is experienced in murder/manslaughter trials understands how and when to pursue an appeal.
Are You Facing A Murder or Manslaughter Charge?
If you have been charged with murder or manslaughter, you need to hire a Maine criminal defense attorney with experience defending murder cases. He should be familiar with the local court system and the prosecutor handling your case. Your life and your future hang in the balance, so take the time to consider who will best represent your interests.