Criminal Defense Attorneys
In Pennsylvania, homicide cases are among the most complex types of criminal matters. Because of the seriousness of murder offenses, having the help of an experienced, effective, and highly knowledgeable defense lawyer is critical when you are facing these types of charges. District attorneys’ offices in Pennsylvania typically have aggressive homicide units, and an inexperienced lawyer will be unlikely to effectively fight against them. If you are facing homicide charges in the Commonwealth, you should retain an experienced and highly-skilled criminal defense lawyer to fight for you. DiCindio Law has the combination of experience and legal skills to build an effective defense to homicide charges.
How Murder Trials Proceed In Pennsylvania
If you are facing a homicide charge in Pennsylvania, your life could be at stake. Depending on the level of offense, you could face up to life in prison or the death penalty. For a charge of murder in the first degree, the prosecutor can decide to seek the death penalty or life in prison.
When a murder case goes to trial, it will be divided into two phases if there is a death penalty sought. During the trial phase, the prosecutors will present evidence to try to prove that the defendant committed the offenses with which he or she has been charged. If the prosecutor is successful, the case will go to the penalty phase. If the defendant is found not guilty, the case will end. In many homicide cases, the defendants may be charged with multiple offenses and might be found not guilty of some of the charges while being found guilty of others. When that happens, the case will proceed to the penalty phase only for the offenses of conviction.
During the penalty phase, the prosecutors will present evidence of aggravating circumstances. When a defendant is convicted of murder in the first degree in a case in which the prosecutor has decided to pursue the death penalty, the prosecutor will present aggravating evidence to try to convince the jury to impose capital punishment.
Mitigating evidence includes helpful facts about the defendant that could help to secure a lesser sentence. While a case might not reach the penalty phase, building a strong mitigation defense from the start is still important. A good mitigation defense will take months to build because the attorney will need to collect a significant amount of information and evidence about the defendant’s upbringing and life.
What Are The Penalties For Homicide Offenses In Pennsylvania?
There are several different types of homicide offenses in Pennsylvania. The penalties that you might face will depend on the type of offense with which you have been charged. While you might be facing either a misdemeanor or felony offense, a majority of homicide cases are felonies.
Here is a brief description of the various homicide offenses in Pennsylvania:
- First-degree Murder: First-degree murder is found in 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 2502(a). This offense is charged when the defendant intended to cause the victim’s death. This also includes premeditated murder. If you are convicted of first-degree murder, you will face a potential penalty of life in prison or the death penalty.
- Second-degree Murder: Second-degree murder is found in 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 2502(b) and is charged when a defendant kills the victim while committing a violent felony, including kidnapping, robbery, rape, or arson. If you are convicted of second-degree or felony murder, you will face a sentence of up to life in prison.
- Third-degree Murder: Third-degree murder is found in 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 2502(c) and is charged when the circumstances surround the victim’s death do not qualify for a charge of first- or second-degree murder. A defendant who is charged with third-degree murder cannot have had a specific intent to cause the victim’s death. If you are convicted of third-degree murder, you will face a penalty of up to 20 years of prison time.
- Voluntary Manslaughter: Voluntary manslaughter is defined in 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 2503(a) and is charged when a defendant did not intend to cause the victim’s death but purposely acted in a way that resulted in death. A voluntary manslaughter conviction carries a potential sentence of up to 20 years in prison.
- Involuntary Manslaughter: Involuntary manslaughter is defined in 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 2504(a) and is charged when a person is killed because of the defendant’s gross negligence or recklessness. It can still be charged even if the defendant’s actions were legal. If you are convicted of involuntary manslaughter, you will face a potential penalty of up to five years of incarceration.
Possible Defenses To Homicide Charges
A defense attorney will carefully analyze the evidence to identify the best defense strategies to take.
Several potential defenses might be raised, including the following:
- Diminished capacity
- Voluntary intoxication
- Lack of criminal intent
- Accidental killing while engaged in lawful activity
Some of these types of defenses will not avoid liability but may reduce the level of offense and the potential penalties.
How Can A Criminal Defense Attorney Near Me Help?
Homicide attorney Michael DiCindio builds defense teams for murder and manslaughter cases that include carefully selected experts and investigators. He customizes his approach to each homicide case to build the strongest possible defenses and mitigation cases. If you have been charged with a homicide offense in Pennsylvania, you should retain an experienced defense lawyer as soon as possible. Investigating a homicide case and building a strong defense takes a substantial amount of work. Getting help early can provide your lawyer more time to work on your defense. Contact DiCindio Law today to request a consultation by calling us at 610.430.3535.