A homicide offense is among the most heavily punished crimes in the country. If you have been accused of killing another person, you could be facing charges of murder or manslaughter. It is extremely important that you obtain representation from a Kansas City criminal defense attorney at the Jacoby Law Firm, because Missouri laws bring very harsh penalties against those convicted.
An individual can be charged with murder in the first degree if they "knowingly cause the death of another person after deliberation upon the matter." The state must be able to prove that the act was premeditated. Murder in the first degree is considered a Class A felony and is punishable by death or life imprisonment without the eligibility for probation or parole.
Murder in the second degree occurs if an individual "knowingly causes the death of another person or, with the purpose of causing physical injury to another person, causes the death of another person." Murder in the second degree is also considered a Class A felony, but is instead punishable by 10 to 30 years in prison or life imprisonment without the eligibility for probation or parole.
Manslaughter, on the other hand, may be prosecuted if an individual kills a person without forethought and with provocation. One would be guilty of voluntary manslaughter if they cause another person's death under the influence of sudden passion or knowingly assist another with suicide—also known as euthanasia. Voluntary manslaughter is a Class B felony and punishable by 5 to 15 years in prison.
Involuntary manslaughter is when an individual recklessly causes another person's death or negligently causes another person's death while operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated. Under these circumstances, the killing is unintentional. Involuntary manslaughter is a Class D felony, punishable by up to 4 years in prison.
Below are a few common defenses available for defendants charged with homicide:
Justifiable homicide is excused by the law. If proven, it may allow a defendant to get off with no punishment or sentencing given.
Inability to intentionally kill is when a defendant is unable to understand that they have a duty not to take a life. This defense may not excuse a homicide, but it can reduce charges to voluntary or involuntary manslaughter.
Reasonable Mistake: In order to have the mental state to kill, the defendant must have the knowledge that the killing was illegal and unjustified. A reasonable mistake means that the defendant lacks that knowledge.
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