New York City Homicide Lawyer
Contrary to what many people think, the term homicide is not the same as “murder”. Instead, it simply means that a person has died during the commission of the offense. It does not specifically connote any willful actions on the part of the person responsible. These situations can be caused by accidents, negligence, recklessness, or an individual’s intentional actions. The actual crime that the actions constitute (if there is one), and thus the severity of the charges, is determined by what the government thinks they can prove with regards to the intentions of the individual who committed the act, combined with the results.
A large part of the police investigation into any homicide is to try to recreate the circumstances of the death to determine whether a crime happened, and if so, what to charge. For example, under the law, a person who is driving too fast and gets into a car accident causing the death of another driver is not held to the same standard as a person who waits and ambushes another person with a gun and shoots them on sight.
A New York City homicide lawyer at the Law Offices of Jeffrey Lichtman can explain the legal processes behind these cases and prepare defenses that aim to defeat the prosecutor’s claims. Our defense attorneys understand how to approach these cases and can work hard to fight on your behalf.
Homicide in New York City Takes on Many Forms
Each different homicide charge under the Penal Law has different elements, and each has a separate threshold that the prosecutor must show. Some of these charges include:
- Criminally Negligent Homicide – New York Penal Law § 125.10
- Manslaughter in the Second Degree – New York Penal Law § 125.15
- Manslaughter in the First Degree – New York Penal Law § 125.20
- Murder in the Second Degree – New York Penal Law § 125.25
- Murder in the First Degree – New York Penal Law § 125.27
These cases range from very straightforward to incredibly complex. Of all the types of criminal cases, homicides are the most likely to be featured in the news, which means there is frequently an element of pressure on the police department to find the person(s) responsible. Occasionally, this added pressure causes the detectives to force connections that are simply not there, or force facts to fit their theories instead of framing their theories around the facts and evidence they collect. This may lead to the NYPD arresting the wrong person.
What Role Does Intent Play in Homicide Cases?
One of the factors that determine the severity of a homicide charge is what the defendant’s intent was at the time of the death. In other words, the severity of the charge may depend on what a prosecutor can prove concerning the reasoning or purpose the defendant had for allegedly committing this crime.
The least serious charges arise when a prosecutor can only prove that a defendant was negligent in causing a death, such as by driving while drunk. Here, the defendant did not intend to cause any harm, but due to their poor choices, a death occurred. Criminally negligent homicide, under New York Penal Law §125.10, is a class E felony.
Other cases allege intended violence resulted in an unexpected death. For instance, if a person gets into a fistfight and the other participant dies, this is an example of manslaughter. It is only when a prosecutor can prove that a defendant killed another person and intended to do so that murder charges will follow. One of our New York City homicide attorneys can review a case and identify how a court may determine how intent contributed to the death.
What are the Potential Penalties in Homicide Cases?
Because of the potential for news coverage, and by virtue of the nature of these cases, defendants in homicide cases frequently receive a harsher punishment, both by trial verdict or by plea bargain.
As a result, it is essential to understand the potential penalties for a conviction, as these charges are felony offenses. However, this does not mean that a conviction will require a defendant to spend time in prison. As previously mentioned, criminally negligent homicide is a class E felony. This means that a court can sentence a defendant to up to four years in prison or may be lenient in allowing the defendant to serve time as probation. A New York City attorney can explain the potential penalties for a homicide charge and work to mitigate the potential sentencing outcomes.
Contact a New York City Homicide Attorney Today
If you, or a loved one, has been charged with any degree of homicide, it is essential to retain a top New York City homicide lawyer. It goes without saying that a conviction will have a lasting impact on a person’s life. Even if the conviction is for a form of homicide that does not include any specific attempt to cause death, the ability to find a job, obtain a mortgage, finance a car purchase, go back to school, or do any number of things that most people take for granted becomes extremely difficult. Fighting these cases with every resource available is the only option.
Our attorneys have tried and won countless homicide cases, from Criminally Negligent Homicide to Murder. We will investigate every angle of your case, explore every defense, and expose every weakness in the government’s theory. Call us today for a free case evaluation.