Sentencing and Penalties For First Degree Murder

Criminal homicides in Pennsylvania involve the unlawful deaths of people and are divided into three murder offenses and two manslaughter crimes. Murder charges are found in 18 Pa.C.S. § 2502 and include first-, second-, and third-degree murder. First-degree murder is the most serious murder offense. If you are facing first-degree murder charges or your loved one has been charged with this offense, talk to DiCindio Law for help in West Chester, Pennsylvania.

Proving first-degree murder

To be charged and convicted of a murder offense, the prosecutor must be able to prove that you acted with actual malice. Malice is proven by showing that you intended to commit the victim’s killing or that you intended to cause harm. First-degree murder requires an intentional killing, meaning that you intended to kill the victim. First-degree murder charges require the prosecutor to show that you acted with express malice.

The prosecutor must prove that you had a specific intent to cause the victim’s death. Your specific intent to murder may be shown by the state by evaluating your actions, the circumstances, and whether you used a deadly weapon.

First-degree murder vs. other homicide offenses

First-degree murder is an intentional killing that involves planning, premeditation, and deliberate acts. Second-degree murder is charged when a killing happens while the defendant is committing a different felony as a principal or an accomplice. Third-degree murder offenses include all other types of murder and involve malice.

Voluntary manslaughter is a heat of passion killing following provocation by the victim or by a third party or when a person has an unreasonable and mistaken belief that the killing is justified. Finally, involuntary manslaughter is an unintentional homicide that results from grossly negligent or reckless conduct regarding the life of the victim.

Penalties for first-degree murder in Pennsylvania

First-degree murder is the most serious murder crime in Pennsylvania. This means that it may be punished by the most severe possible punishments under the law. Prosecutors have the burden of proving the elements of first-degree murder beyond a reasonable doubt before the defendants can be convicted of this offense. To do this, the prosecutors must prove that the defendant committed an unlawful, intentional, and premeditated killing of another person.

First-degree murder is set apart from other homicide and murder offenses by the planning, deliberate acts, and premeditation by the defendant. If the killing was spontaneous or occurred after provocation during a heat of passion, it will likely be charged as a different homicide offense in Pennsylvania.

Under 18 Pa.C.S. § 1102, a person who is convicted of first-degree murder in Pennsylvania may face either life imprisonment or a death sentence. However, if the person is convicted for the first-degree murder of an unborn child, he or she will not face the death penalty but will face life in prison.

Defenses to first-degree murder charges in Pennsylvania

First-degree murder cases are complex and carry extremely high stakes. Your attorney will carefully review and analyze all of the evidence that is being held in your case to identify the best defense strategies to follow. Some of the potential defenses that might be raised include the following:

  • You did not have the required mental capacity to have a specific intent to kill;
  • You were voluntarily intoxicated at the time of the offense;
  • You were insane at the time of the offense and could not distinguish between right and wrong;
  • You were acting in self-defense;
  • You had battered women’s syndrome, which caused you to kill your spouse or partner;
  • The killing was accidental and you did not have criminal intent and were engaging in a lawful activity;
  • You were misidentified as the killer;
  • You have an alibi for the time and date of the killing; or
  • You committed the killing while you were under duress.

Imposing the death penalty

If you are convicted of first-degree murder, your case will enter into the sentencing phase. During this phase, the prosecutor and the defense attorney will present arguments about the punishment that you should face. The prosecutor may present evidence of aggravating factors that support a death sentence. The defense attorney may present evidence of mitigating factors to argue against the death penalty.

Talk to DiCindio Law

Facing murder charges can be devastating and could potentially lead to a life behind bars or a death sentence. Getting help from an experienced attorney is crucial for these types of charges. Contact DiCindio Law to learn about your case at 610-430-3535.

Get The Facts About Involuntary Deviate Sexual Intercourse (IDSI)

A charge of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse or IDSI is a serious felony offense. If you are facing this type of charge, you are likely feeling scared about your future. It is important for you to understand this offense and to get help from an experienced Pennsylvania sex crimes attorney. A lawyer at DiCindio Law can review the evidence in your case to determine the best defense strategies to raise in your case. Here is what you need to know about involuntary deviate sexual intercourse charges in Pennsylvania.

What is involuntary deviate sexual intercourse in Pennsylvania?

Involuntary deviate sexual intercourse is an extremely serious offense. It is codified at Pa. Stat. Ann. § 3123. Under this statute, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse is a felony of the first degree offense. It can be committed when a defendant engages in deviate sexual intercourse in one of the following ways:

  • Using force to compel sexual intercourse
  • Threatening forcible compulsion
  • When the person is unconscious or unaware that sexual intercourse is happening
  • When the defendant administers intoxicants or substances without the knowledge of the alleged victim so that he or she is unable to consent or resist
  • When the alleged victim has a mental disability that prevents him or her from consenting
  • When the alleged victim is younger than 16 and the defendant is more than four years older, and they are not married

This is a very serious offense. However, being charged with involuntary deviate sexual intercourse is not a conviction. The prosecutor will have the burden of proof to prove the elements of this offense beyond a reasonable doubt before you can be convicted of IDSI and sentenced. When facing this type of charge, you will need to find an aggressive and experienced sex crimes attorney who will fight to protect your freedom and rights. Attorney Michael DiCindio has experience working as a prosecutor and as a criminal defense lawyer. He has handled criminal matters of all levels, including serious sex crimes. He is dedicated to defending his clients against serious felony offenses, including charges of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse.

Involuntary deviate sexual intercourse vs. rape

Involuntary deviate sexual intercourse has some similarities to rape but includes more types of sexual acts. Involuntary deviate sexual intercourse can include the following types of acts:

  • Penetration with objects
  • Anal sex
  • Oral sex
  • Sex acts with animals
  • Sexual intercourse with one of the previously described victims or circumstances

What are the penalties for a conviction of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse?

Involuntary deviate sexual intercourse is a felony of the first degree in Pennsylvania. If you are convicted of this offense, you will face very stiff penalties. This offense carries the potential prison sentence of up to 20 years. You will also face fines of up to $25,000 and be required to register as a sex offender for the remainder of your life.

If you are required to register as a sex offender, you will have to comply with the registration and notification mandates and reveal information about yourself and where you live. Being on the sex offender registry can cause ongoing collateral consequences such as trouble finding a job and somewhere to live. The Sexual Offender Registration and Notification Act or SORNA requires sex offenders to register in every jurisdiction in which they live, go to school, and work.
If you fail to comply with the registration requirements, it is a felony offense that can result in time in prison and substantial fines.

Involuntary deviate sexual intercourse with a child

If you are facing charges of IDSI with a child, you will face even more severe penalties upon a conviction. This offense is also a felony of the first degree that is punishable by up to decades in prison. One important thing to note is that it is not a defense to an IDSI with a child charge that you did not know the child was under the age of 13 or that he or she consented to the act.

Defending against involuntary deviate sexual intercourse charges

You should not take a charge of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse lightly because of the high stakes involved. You should seek a highly skilled criminal defense and sex crimes attorney. A lawyer at DiCindio Law can thoroughly investigate what occurred and evaluate the credibility of the alleged victim’s claim. Your attorney may also work closely with experts to analyze and challenge forensic evidence.

Simply facing a charge of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse does not mean that you will be found guilty or that you are guilty. You need to talk to an experienced sex offense lawyer to gain a clear understanding of your rights and the defenses that might be available to you.

If you have been arrested for an IDSI offense, contact DiCindio Law to schedule a free and confidential consultation. Attorney Michael DiCindio will evaluate your case and work to identify every defense that might be raised to fight the charges against you. You need to retain a skilled and dedicated attorney who is willing to fight for your rights when you are facing IDSI charges. Call DiCindio Law today to schedule your consultation at 610-430-3535.

Rape Charges

Being accused of committing a Rape can have devastating, far-reaching and irreversible consequences to an individual’s reputation, profession and liberty.  Rape charges / cases are often filled with emotional, factual, and credibility issues that a criminal defense attorney must effectively analyze and use to his client’s benefit before a judge or jury.

West Chester Pennsylvania Criminal Defense and Personal Injury Attorney

West Chester Pennsylvania Criminal Defense and Personal Injury Attorney

Under the Rape statute in Pennsylvania, there are different ways in which the crime of Rape can occur and therefore different elements that must be proven by the Commonwealth beyond a reasonable doubt before a conviction can result. Each different legal term in the statute has a specific definition that must be understood and analyzed in detail in comparison with the facts of a case before a proper and complete defense can be prepared.

If you or a loved one has been accused, charged or convicted of a crime or rape charges and are in need of legal help contact criminal defense attorney Mike DiCindio directly.

                          18 Pa.C.S.A. § 3121.  Rape.

(a)  Offense defined.–A person commits a felony of the first degree when the person engages in sexual intercourse with a complainant:

(1)  By forcible compulsion.

(2)  By threat of forcible compulsion that would prevent resistance by a person of reasonable resolution.

(3)  Who is unconscious or where the person knows that the complainant is unaware that the sexual intercourse is occurring.

(4)  Where the person has substantially impaired the complainant’s power to appraise or control his or her conduct by administering or employing, without the knowledge of the complainant, drugs, intoxicants or other means for the purpose of preventing resistance.

(5)  Who suffers from a mental disability which renders the complainant incapable of consent.


The above listed information does not include the entire crimes code, annotations, amendments or any recent changes that may be relevant.  The information provided is for informational purposes only and may not reflect the most current legal developments.  These materials are not intended, and should not be taken, as legal advice on any particular set of facts or circumstances.  It is intended solely for informational purposes.

Michael D. DiCindio, Esq. is a West Chester criminal defense lawyer who represents individuals accused of crimes throughout all of Chester County, including West Chester, Phoenixville, Malvern, Coatesville, Paoli, Downingtown, Tredyffrin, West Goshen, Honey Brook, Oxford, Devon, Pottstown, Chesterbrook, Parkesburg, Kennett Square, and Avondale