If you were arrested or charged with homicide in Chester County, PA, contact our experienced West Chester homicide lawyers at (610) 430-3535 to schedule a free consultation. DiCindio Law, LLC can help you fight to minimize jail time, get your charges reduced, or even have your case dismissed entirely.
Our founding attorney is a former Chester County prosecutor with years of experience handling complex criminal cases with serious charges. We’ve helped protect the rights of countless clients over the years.
You already know that the stakes are high, so don’t wait to get legal advice. Contact us today.
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How DiCindio Law, LLC Can Help if I Was Arrested for Homicide in Chester County?
Homicide charges are not a joke. They’re far more serious than even the most serious drug charges or weapons offenses you could face. If convicted, you could be sent to prison for life without parole or even face the death penalty–and you should expect prosecutors to do everything possible to convict.
That’s why you have to make sure you have an experienced West Chester criminal defense attorney on your side.
At DiCindio Law, LLC, we’re committed to offering the strongest legal defense possible for every client we take on. We keep our caseload small on purpose so that we can offer the personal attention and dedication you deserve.
When you hire our attorneys to protect you, you can expect a lawyer to:
- Comprehensively investigate the circumstances of your arrest and charges
- Locate any exculpatory evidence to prove your innocence
- Analyze the prosecution’s evidence to identify any flaws
- Exploit any weaknesses in the prosecution’s case
- Negotiate to get the your charges reduced or dismissed if possible
- Zealously defend you before a judge and jury
An experienced Chester County criminal defense attorney can make the difference between life in prison or having your charges dropped. Call our top-rated lawyers today to learn more about how we’ll fight for you.
Overview of the Criminal Homicide Laws in Pennsylvania
In Pennsylvania, you can be charged with homicide if you’re accused of causing the death of another person. You may face homicide charges if the prosecution can prove that you acted knowingly, intentionally, recklessly, or even negligently. However, the severity of the charges will vary depending upon your level of intent.
Under Pennsylvania law, criminal homicide is classified as one of the following:
- Voluntary manslaughter
- Involuntary manslaughter
Remember, there is no such thing as a “minor” homicide charge. The stakes are high whenever you’re accused of causing the death of another person.
At DiCindio Law, LLC, our West Chester homicide attorneys know the stakes are high. We’ll do everything possible to build upupthe strong defense you deserve. Our lawyers handle all types of criminal offenses, so call our law firm to schedule a free case review today.
Murder is perhaps the most serious criminal charge you could face.
Depending on the circumstances, Pennsylvania homicide laws classify murder as:
- Murder of the first degree
- Murder of the second degree
- Murder of the third degree
Murder of the first degree is intentional killing. “Intentional killing” is further defined as killing by poison, by lying in wait, or any other willful, deliberate, and premeditated killing.
Murder of the second degree, also known as “felony murder,” is the charge that applies when a defendant causes a person’s death while committing another felony. You can also be charged with murder of the second degree if you cause someone’s death while attempting to commit a felony.
You could be convicted of murder of the second degree if you cause another person’s death while committing, or fleeing after committing, the following crimes:
- Rape or certain sex crimes
- Deviate sexual intercourse by force, or by threat of force
Murder of the third degree is any other type of murder that doesn’t fit into the categories of first degree or second degree.
Voluntary manslaughter is an unjustified killing of another human being. While “manslaughter” may sound less serious than “murder,” voluntary manslaughter is a first-degree felony in Pennsylvania.
Voluntary manslaughter is the charge that applies if:
- Someone provoked you and you killed that person in the heat of passion
- You negligently or accidentally kill someone after being provoked by another person
You can also face voluntary manslaughter charges if the prosecution claims that all of the following are true:
- You intentionally or knowingly killed someone
- You believed that the killing was justified
- Your belief was unreasonable
The “heat of passion” defense is not as effective as you might think. Even if you acted in a rage or were provoked, you might still be facing first-degree felony charges.
Prosecutors can also charge you with criminal homicide in situations where you acted negligently or recklessly.
Typically, involuntary manslaughter charges apply if:
- You cause the death of another
- Your actions are grossly negligent or reckless
- You were aware that your actions could possibly result in someone else’s death
Your actions may be classified as “reckless” if you intentionally disregard a substantial and unjustified risk. Gross negligence is a reckless disregard for the safety of others. You could be accused of gross negligence if you disregard a safety risk that no reasonable person would disregard.
Involuntary manslaughter is usually a first-degree misdemeanor. However, you will likely face second-degree felony charges if the victim was under age 12 and in your care or custody at the time of death.
What Are the Penalties for a Homicide Conviction in Chester County, Pennsylvania?
The Pennsylvania sentencing guidelines provide the following penalties if you’re convicted of a homicide:
- First degree murder: sentence of life in prison or the death penalty
- Second degree murder: life in prison
- Third degree murder: up to 40 years in prison
Penalities for voluntary or involuntary manslaughter could vary, depending on the circumstances:
- First-degree misdemeanor: five years in jail and up to $10,000 in fines
- Third-degree felony: seven years in prison and up to $15,000 in fines
- Second-degree felony: ten years in prison and up to $25,000 in fines
- First-degree felony: twenty years in prison and $25,000 in fines
Pennsylvania criminal laws on homicide also contain sentencing enhancements and mandatory minimum prison sentences if you’re convicted of murder. Under Pennsylvania law, judges are required to impose a mandatory minimum sentence of life in prison without parole for defendants who are convicted of first-degree murder or second-degree murder.
However, in cases involving third-degree murder, no mandatory minimum sentence applies. While the judge has discretion, you could face up to 40 years in prison if convicted.
The collateral consequences of any homicide conviction can be extreme. Homicide is a violent crime–and your criminal record will reflect the nature of the crime.
If convicted, you could also face:
- Problems finding employment or housing
- Loss of professional licenses
- Loss of your right to own a firearm
- Problems with immigration
- Ongoing supervised parole or probation
Regardless of the exact charge, the penalties for any homicide conviction will be extreme. It’s important to start building your defense today. For more information, call our law offices to schedule a free case review and learn more about our practice areas.
What Defenses Can Be Raised if I’m Accused of Committing Homicide?
A strong legal defense is the key to beating any homicide charges. Under Pennsylvania law, the prosecution must prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt to convict. Our lawyers in West Chester will work to make that as difficult as possible.
At DiCindio Law, LLC, we’ll build a custom-tailored defense strategy around the facts of your case. Depending on the circumstances, that strategy could result in your charges being reduced or your case being dismissed. Our goal is to win a “not guilty” verdict in any case that goes to trial.
Elements of your defense strategy might include:
- The prosecution lacks evidence to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt
- Challenges to witness’ credibility
- Challenges to the validity of scientific or forensic evidence
- Actual innocence, including alibi defenses or mistaken identity
- False accusations
- Justifiable self-defense
- Constitutional violations
Every single homicide case is unique. Every case is also challenging. You should expect that police and the district attorney’s office will devote significant resources to proving their case. They’ll hire the best forensic experts and do everything possible to convict–and you deserve a lawyer who can help you fight back.
Our lawyers will carefully evaluate the evidence in your case. We’ll also investigate to locate our own evidence. If law enforcement obtained evidence through an illegal search and seizure or violation of your constitutional rights, we’ll move to have that evidence excluded from your case.
It’s never too early to start building your defense. To learn more about how we can help, call the experienced lawyers in Chester County, PA for a free case evaluation today.
Schedule a Free Consultation With a West Chester Homicide Lawyer
The situation is always serious if you’re facing criminal charges in West Chester, Pennsylvania. Don’t make the mistake of taking the allegations lightly. Call an experienced Chester County homicide lawyer at DiCindio Law, LLC to schedule a free consultation today. You can count on our team to build the aggressive defense you need.