The most serious crime that anyone can commit would be one that resulted in the death of another human being. A handful of charges can result from the intentional or unintentional death of another and if charged with any of them, a defendant can be facing the most severe consequences including life in prison.
First-degree murder is generally defined as the premeditated, willful, or deliberate act of murder. In the State of Maryland, you can also be charged with first-degree murder through a charge called “Felony Murder.” To be charged with felony murder, an individual must have died while the defendant was in the commission of a felony. So for example, if you rob a store (which is a felony act) and end up shooting and killing someone in the process, you can be charged with felony murder. If charged with first-degree murder, you face a potential life sentence.
Often called depraved-heart murder, second-degree murder is generally defined as any murder committed without premeditation, willfulness, or deliberation. For example, if you kill someone in a fit of rage, you will likely be charged with second-degree murder. If charged with second-degree murder, you face 40 years in jail.
Manslaughter is different than murder because manslaughter typically means that there was no intent to commit a murder without or without premeditation. Manslaughter is often used as a bargaining chip by attorneys to attempt to plea more serious charges downward to manslaughter. This is because manslaughter carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in jail. Manslaughter also includes things like vehicular manslaughter.
If you are charged with an attempt of committing either murder or manslaughter, it means that while no one died from your actions, you still took a substantial step towards committing one of those crimes. If you are charged with Attempt, you face the maximum penalties of the charge that you are accused of attempting. For example, attempted first-degree murder carries a maximum possible penalty of life.
When you are facing the most serious consequences, the quality of your representation can mean the difference in how you spend the rest of your life. Knowing how to handle sensitive and serious cases like these is an art form that few attorneys even choose to practice. An experienced murder/manslaughter attorney can help you assess the elements of the charges and determine if you have any valid defenses, if you may be eligible for a plea to a lesser charge, or vigorously defense against the allegations in court to achieve the best possible outcome for your freedom.
Call Bradley Shepherd today for a consultation in your murder/manslaughter case.