Montgomery County, PA Murder Defense Lawyer
Murder is the most serious crime someone can be charged with. A conviction for murder will result in severe criminal penalties, regardless of what kind of murder was committed. Murder is a felony that could result in life in prison, the removal of other rights for the rest of your life, or capital punishment.
With so much at stake, it is important to have skilled legal counsel in your corner. Our attorneys have dedicated their careers to criminal defense and are ready to fight for you every step of the way to get a favorable outcome in court.
For a free, confidential call with our murder defense lawyers, reach out to The Law Offices of Lloyd Long at (215) 302-0171.
Classification of Homicide Crimes in Montgomery County, PA
Not all illegal killings are considered “murder” in Pennsylvania. “Criminal homicide” encompasses murder, manslaughter, and causing suicide under Pennsylvania Law. The circumstances surrounding your case might not constitute murder, so it is a good idea to discuss with our murder defense lawyers to build a good defense for you.
Defining Murder in Montgomery County, PA
Like many states, Pennsylvania categorizes murder into various degrees. First-degree murder is the most serious form of murder, while second and third-degree murder are less serious, respectively. Although some types of murder are considered less bad under the law, you should not be led to believe that getting charged with any form of murder is something to be lackadaisical about. All three degrees of murder have serious penalties attached.
Pennsylvania defines murder in the first degree under 18 Pa.C.S. § 2502(a) as the intentional taking of another person’s life. The term “intentional killing” is itself defined under part (d) of the same section as killing by poisoning, “lying in wait,” or another method indicating a “premeditated killing.”
The intent element is what separates first-degree murder from other degrees of murder. Do not mistake intent to kill or premeditation with duration of time. Intent can be formed in as little as a second. The perpetrator does not need to come up with a weeks-long scheme to kill someone to have the intent to do so.
18 Pa.C.S. § 2502(b) defines murder in the second degree as murder committed while the defendant was committing or an accomplice to a felony. In many jurisdictions, this is referred to as “felony murder.” This is unique from first-degree murder in that you do not actually need to be the one doing the killing to be convicted. For example, if you and another person rob a bank, and your partner in crime kills someone during the robbery, you can still be charge with murder since you were an accomplice.
Third Degree Murder
All other kinds of murder are murder in the third degree according to 18 Pa.C.S. § 2052(c). Murder in the third degree does not require premeditation like first-degree murder does.
Manslaughter in Montgomery County, PA
Manslaughter is different from murder, but often gets confused with it. In Pennsylvania, Manslaughter is a separate, slightly less serious crime. That being said, manslaughter is still a felony that will have life-long effects upon conviction. Pennsylvania breaks manslaughter into two categories: voluntary and involuntary manslaughter.
18 Pa.C.S. § 2503 defines voluntary manslaughter as killing someone without lawful justification from a “serious provocation.” An example of a serious provocation would be walking in on your spouse being unfaithful, and then killing your spouse in the heat of the moment. While still a serious crime, this example would not rise to the level of murder because it was done without really forming the intent to kill. However, if the jilted lover in this example walked out to their car to grab a gun and came back to shoot their cheating spouse, that would rise to the level of murder since that would likely be considered sufficient time to cool off and commit an intentional act.
Involuntary manslaughter is defined under 18 Pa.C.S. § 2504 as causing the death of another person due to any act done recklessly or with gross negligence. The main difference between voluntary and involuntary manslaughter is that involuntary manslaughter is done with serious negligence, versus voluntary manslaughter is done under some mistake or provocation.
For example, if someone drives at 100 miles per hour through a school zone and runs over a student, killing them, the driver could be charged with involuntary manslaughter because even though they did not intend to kill the student, driving at a very high speed through a school zone is grossly negligent conduct.
Justified Self-Defense Against Murder Accusations in Montgomery County, PA
Our lawyers can help to craft a defense for you that will give you the best chance at a favorable outcome in court. One of the primary defenses to a murder charge in Pennsylvania is justification, or self-defense.
Self-defense is outlined in 18 Pa.C.S. § 505 as the use of force to protect oneself from the unlawful actions of another person. The use of deadly force in self-defense is further restricted by this section as only permitted when a person believes they are in immediate danger of death, serious bodily injury, or rape. However, the use of deadly force is not allowed if there is an opportunity to retreat. For example, killing in self-defense would be permitted under the law if you were cornered in a back alley with a gun to your head, but not if there was a place you could reasonably escape to without putting your life in jeopardy.
Discuss Your Case with Our Montgomery County, PA Murder Defense Lawyers Today
Call our murder defense lawyers with the Law Offices of Lloyd Long at (215) 302-0171 for a free, confidential case review.