What Defenses Can I Use During a Homicide Case?

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When a crime or situation results in the end of someone’s life, the liable party may have committed homicide. Homicide is a serious crime in New Jersey with harsh penalties including substantial fines and lengthy prison sentences. You could even face life without parole in some cases. To discuss the details of your situation and find out what defenses you may be able to use during your homicide case speak with a Mercer County violent crime lawyer today.

What Types of Homicide Exist?

Homicide is the general term for taking someone’s life, but not everyone who causes another person’s death is guilty of homicide. Only criminal homicide is considered a punishable crime. There are generally three categories of criminal homicide: involuntary manslaughter, voluntary manslaughter, and murder.

Involuntary manslaughter is the unintentional killing of another person, usually as a result of criminal negligence or recklessness on the part of the defendant. The defendant did actively take part in dangerous or irresponsible behavior but they did not intend for anyone to die.

Voluntary manslaughter is known as a crime of passion. The defendant did purposefully kill the victim but it was done only after being provoked into a heightened emotional state or during an unanticipated fight. They did not have a plan to kill the person, they lost control.

Murder is one of, if not the most, serious offenses that a person can commit. There are two degrees typically recognized, first-degree and second-degree murder. Both involve the intentional killing of another person, but first-degree murder requires that the crime be willful and premeditated. Second-degree murder is one where the person either intended to kill the victim but it was not premeditated, intended to harm the victim and accidentally killed them, or participated in behavior that showed an extreme indifference to human life which resulted in the victim’s death.

What Are the Best Defenses for a Homicide Case?

There are several defenses that you can employ with the help of your attorney. Your lawyer will assess the details of your case and determine how to best defend you in a court of law. The following are some effective defenses that you may choose to utilize.

  • Mistaken identity: You may have been arrested based on eyewitness statements, but you did not commit the crime. If you can prove you were not at the scene or place doubt on the credibility of the eyewitnesses you could be found not guilty.
  • Self-defense: There is such a thing as justifiable homicide. If you acted in self-defense of yourself or others which resulted in the other person’s death you may not have committed the crime as you held a reasonable belief that your actions were necessary to protect yourself.
  • Prosecution overcharged: Maybe you did cause the victim’s death but it was an accident. If you are being charged with voluntary manslaughter when really your situation aligns with involuntary manslaughter, having your charges reduced could help you avoid the harsher penalties of a more severe charge.
  • Insanity: You could claim insanity if you were unable to form the mental state to commit the crime.
  • Intoxication: If you were voluntarily or involuntarily intoxicated you may not have been able to form the mental state to commit the crime.

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