A homicide occurs when someone unlawfully kills another person. Homicide charges are extremely serious charges in Michigan and other states. There are various degrees of homicide, but the penalties for most of them are understandably harsh. If you are charged with homicide, it is crucial to retain an experienced criminal defense attorney. At the Neumann Law Group, our Grand Rapids and Traverse City homicide lawyers can pursue a reduction to a lesser charge or take your case to trial if needed.Fighting a Homicide Charge
The most serious homicide charge is first-degree murder. First-degree murder may be premeditated or may be a felony murder. The former exists when the prosecution can establish beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant planned to murder the victim. The premeditation may be brief, and an elaborate scheme or a significant passage of time is not necessary.
Felony murder may be charged when a death occurs due to or during the commission of another felony, as specified by statute. For example, if someone is accidentally killed during a carjacking or kidnapping, felony murder may be charged. First-degree murder convictions carry mandatory life imprisonment sentences without the possibility of parole.
Second-degree murder is also a serious charge that carries the possibility of life imprisonment. However, life imprisonment is not mandatory. The prosecution will need to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant’s act caused a death, that they acted with malice, and that they had no justification or excuse. Proof of malice is established when the prosecution can show that a defendant intended to kill, intended to cause great bodily harm to the victim, or intended to create a high risk of death or bodily injury, knowing that those were the probable results of their actions.
Manslaughter is often described as a heat of passion murder. It may happen in a split second, and it happens without premeditation or malice. In some cases, a skillful attorney may negotiate with the prosecution to get a first-degree or second-degree murder charge reduced to manslaughter. If you are convicted or take a plea deal, manslaughter is punished with 15 years’ imprisonment. Involuntary manslaughter also carries a potential penalty of 15 years’ imprisonment. You may be charged with involuntary manslaughter if you were doing something unlawful that did not count as one of the specified felonies or that would not naturally tend to trigger a death or serious injuries. For example, it might be charged if a truck driver was driving negligently, caused a crash, and accidentally killed someone.
The prosecution has a high burden of proof in criminal cases, and creating a reasonable doubt may be a basis for a solid defense. In some cases, it may be possible to point to another suspect to get the charges reduced or obtain a not-guilty verdict. Sometimes there are also errors in how the evidence was obtained or constitutional violations that cast doubt on a defendant's guilt. In other situations, raising a self-defense argument may be an appropriate strategy to challenge a charge.Consult an Experienced Homicide Lawyer in Grand Rapids or Traverse City
Homicide charges are some of the most serious criminal charges that a defendant may face. If you are in this difficult situation, you should consult an experienced Traverse City or Grand Rapids homicide attorney as soon as possible. The Neumann Law Group also represents defendants in Ann Arbor, Flint, Lansing, Kalamazoo, Detroit, Wyoming, Saginaw, Muskegon, Midland, Holland, Warren, and Petoskey, as well as communities throughout the Upper Peninsula. Contact us at 800-525-NEUMANN or via our online form to set up a free consultation. We also can help people who need a domestic violence attorney or assistance with fighting other types of charges.