Homicide Lawyers | Georgetown Office | Serving Selbyville, DE
26 The Circle, PO Box 250, Georgetown, DE 19947
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A charge of homicide does not necessarily mean someone intended to kill another person. There are several types of homicide crimes and each vary by the facts of the case and the jurisdiction. Aside from the act, the alleged perpetrator’s intent is also extremely important. Depending on the specifics of your case your attorney can help explain to you the charges against you and the various possible defenses to your case.
Homicide takes place when one person kills another. Homicide may or may not be illegal, and this judgment is highly dependent on context.
For example, if a soldier on the battlefield shoots and kills an enemy combatant they have committed homicide, but their actions do not (ordinarily) constitute a crime. In some jurisdictions, if a home intruder is gunned down by the lawful resident, it may not be considered a crime — though homicide has occurred.
Criminal homicide, typically involving offenses such as murder (both first and second degree) as well as manslaughter (voluntary, involuntary, vehicular), refers to illegal forms of homicide.
While all murders are instances of homicides, not all homicides are murders. Murder is by definition a crime, and a requisite element for murder charges is premeditation or malice. Homicide is not bound by any such stricture in terms of its definition.
An individual who plans to kill a longstanding enemy or rival, and then executes this plan, is guilty of murder — in this case, an illegal instance of homicide.
As with murder, all manslaughter cases involve homicide, but not all homicides involve manslaughter. Manslaughter is typically defined as an unlawful killing that was not premeditated or an unlawful killing that is the result of criminally reckless behavior (commonly known as a “depraved-heart” killing).
A person who finds their spouse engaged in the act of adultery, flies into a fit of rage and kills one of the other parties is likely to be charged with voluntary manslaughter — and they have committed a form of illegal homicide.
Homicide can either be a legal or illegal action depending on the circumstances. However, when considering illegal homicide such as murder or manslaughter, the charges are almost always classified as felony offenses due to the gravity of the crime (a life has been taken).
Instances of illegal homicide vary greatly in terms of sentencing handed out in response to criminal convictions.
If you are found guilty of voluntary manslaughter (manslaughter committed in the heat of passion or during a fight, you could face up to 15 years in prison. Those convicted of involuntary manslaughter (that is, a death resulting from reckless behavior or similar negligence) may serve up to eight years behind bars. State statutes typically follow a similar sentencing scheme, though some jurisdictions allow for up to 15 years in prison for involuntary manslaughter.
Murder is treated even more seriously by both state and federal courts. Those found guilty of first-degree murder in federal court face life imprisonment or even the death penalty (in states which allow for this sentence to be executed). Those convicted of second-degree murder face any number of years in prison, or a life sentence alternatively.
Legal homicide, such as the examples provided earlier, does not carry a sentence.
If you are facing charges related to illegal homicide of any nature, whether said charges are murder or manslaughter, it is strongly recommended that you seek experienced legal representation at your earliest opportunity.
A skilled criminal defense attorney familiar with homicide cases, established case law surrounding these and standing legal judgments or precedents, can be extremely useful in helping you to navigate the court system — increasing your chances of avoiding a conviction. Attorney-client privilege protects your discussions with your lawyer, allowing you to divulge all relevant information to them without fear of legal repercussions.
A conviction on charges of homicide is a very serious matter, as all offenses falling under this legal category are defined as felony offenses of the highest degree. A lengthy prison sentence, substantial monetary fines and even the death penalty can be the result if you are found guilty, and so it is vitally important to secure adequate, professional legal counsel.
If you have been charged with the crime of homicide, you will have the option to hire a homicide defense attorney or have one appointed to you. He or she can help protect your rights before and during the trial.
Specialized legal help is available for most legal issues. Each case is unique; seeking legal help is a smart first step toward understanding your legal situation and seeking the best path toward resolution for your case. An experienced lawyer understands the local laws surrounding your case and what your best legal options might be. More importantly, there are certain situations and circumstances – such as being charged with a crime – where you should always seek experienced legal help.
A reputable attorney will be very upfront about how he/she will charge you. The three most common fee structures that attorneys use to charge for their services are:
Depending on your specific legal situation, it’s possible that only one type of fee structure is available. For instance, criminal defense attorneys almost always bill by the hour. In a flat fee arrangement, an attorney accepts a one-time payment to help you resolve your issue. With a contingent fee agreement, the client pays little to nothing upfront and the attorney receives a percentage of the money recovered if you win your case.
Plaintiff – a person or party who brings a lawsuit against another person(s) or party/parties in a court of law. Private persons or parties can only file suit in civil court.
Judgment – A decision of the court. Also known as a decree or order. Judgments handed down by the court are usually binding on the parties before the court.