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Homicide is one of the most serious crimes known to man, and as such, homicide and manslaughter charges are pursued to the fullest extent of the law. Homicide charges are significantly more severe than manslaughter charges because they’re different by their very nature. Knowing the variances between the types of murder charges and the associated penalties is important in understanding how your case will be handled.
There are several degrees of murder charges, and each charge is determined by the circumstances surrounding the crime. Furthermore, each degree has different types of penalties. Regardless of the degree, a murder charge is always a felony. The death penalty was abolished in 1911, and currently, the most severe sentence is life in prison. Murder charges are divided into the following categories:
A first degree murder charge is reserved for those most severe in nature. This can include:
Under Minnesota law, first degree murder is punishable by life in prison. Furthermore, the family of the victim can pursue a civil suit for wrongful death, which can result in hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines.
Second degree murder is a lesser form of homicide, but is still homicide nonetheless. It’s more serious than a manslaughter charge or a third degree murder charge, but less severe than first degree murder. Second degree murder can be defined as:
Second degree murder is punishable by up to 40 years in prison and possible fines if Schedule II drugs were involved.
There are several defenses your attorney may use in either a first or second degree murder case. Self-defense, insanity, and innocence are all possible arguments. During trial, a judge will look at mitigating and aggravating factors to determine the severity of your penalties. Aggravating factors include anything that makes the crime more heinous, while mitigating factors are anything that makes it less so.
In any case, your attorney will attempt to show mitigating evidence that could reduce your charges to a lower degree or to a manslaughter charge. For example, proving the murder was actually an accident could reduce it to an involuntary manslaughter charge, which has significantly less severe penalties.
The Knutson+Casey Law Firm works with clients in Mankato, Austin, Owatonna, and surrounding areas. We provide compassionate, experienced, and effective representation for our clients. We are highly experienced in several areas of criminal defense law, including homicide and manslaughter. We believe everyone deserves a right to adept legal counsel and a fair trial, regardless of the nature of the charges. If you’re facing murder charges, finding a skilled defense attorney who will fight on your side is the most important thing you can do. Contact us today for a free consultation.