Murder, or homicide, is one of the oldest violent crimes in recorded history. Violent deaths continue to occur even in this more enlightened era of mankind. In fact, lawmakers have tried to deal with violent deaths by breaking them down into several categories.
What do these categories mean and what consequences will defendants face upon conviction? In this blog post, we will explore murder in the first degree in the hope that defendants facing this charge will have a clearer idea of what to expect. In Massachusetts, first-degree murder occurs when one person intentionally and deliberately kills someone else with premeditation.
The term premeditation is important because it means that the defendant allegedly planned out the murder ahead of time. However, the prosecution must prove the premeditation element. If he or she cannot, it is possible that a criminal defense attorney could ask for lesser charges instead. As you might expect, lesser charges mean fewer consequences for the defendant if there's a conviction.
Another way a defendant may face first-degree murder charges is if a person dies due to the defendant's actions in a separate violent crime. For example, say a person enters a home unlawfully to steal something valuable. The homeowner interrupts the robbery so the defendant pushes him down a staircase in order to run away. The homeowner hits his head and loses consciousness. If he dies because of the head injury, the defendant will likely face first-degree murder charges even though no premeditation exists.
The possible consequences for violent crimes involving first-degree murder are quite severe if a conviction occurs. In some cases, the court hands down a sentence of life imprisonment. Working with a defense lawyer offers a chance to avoid the harshest sentence and may even lead to an acquittal.