Murder is one of the first things that people think of when they are asked about violent crimes. Murder is at the heart of literature, movies, and television. It’s rare that a day goes by without a murder being in the news, yet very few people understand exactly what it means to commit a murder. If you are being investigated for a murder charge, you may not even fully understand what’s going on. Fortunately, taking some time to understand the State of New York’s definition of murder, as well as its penalties, can help you to understand exactly why it is so important to mount a zealous legal defense of your rights.
Murder in New York
In the State of New York, murder is one of many types of homicide offenses. Murder is also an umbrella term that holds under it a few different charges, including first and second degree murder, felony murder, and aggravated murder. It is a complex charge that is brought less often than one might think, especially if one’s primary exposure to the law is through the media.
First degree murder is defined as not only causing the death of another, but doing so intentionally. Second degree murder is intentionally causing the death of another while under the influence of an extreme emotional disturbance.
Felony murder can also occur when someone is killed in the commission of one of several named crimes. These removes one of the more important elements of murder, and immediately increases the severity of a homicide up to the level of murder. Acts of felony and aggravated murder are usually met with the same level of gravity as a typical first or second degree murder charge.
No matter what type of murder is charged, it’s important to note that it isn’t simply the killing of the other party that is important for the charge. Instead, one must show that the person being charged planned to kill the other party, undertook the action, and that the other party was actually killed.
Penalties for Murder in New York
The State of New York takes murder quite seriously. If you are found guilty of murder, you can find yourself facing a number of incredibly stringent penalties. This crime is a Class A-1 felony, and thus carries with it some of the harshest penalties available under the law.
If you are found guilty of murder, the minimum term is a sentence of twenty to twenty-five years with a chance of parole. In many cases, and especially those that are found to be especially heinous, the penalty can be a life sentence without the chance of parole. New York State is also a state that still has the death penalty for capital crimes, making it possible (but unlikely) for an individual to get the death penalty for the crime.
Even if you manage to get a lesser sentence, you shouldn’t expect life to go back to normal. As a violent felon, you will lose the rights serve on a jury, vote, and own firearms. It is incredibly difficult to find employment or housing with a murder conviction. The conviction will follow you for the remainder of your life – normalcy cannot be expected for those who are found guilty.
Given the seriousness of the charge, it should come as no surprise that there are several common defenses to the charge of murder. An individual does not have to prove that he or she did not commit a murder, nor is he or she responsible for finding the “real” murder. Rather, the defendant must simply provide enough evidence to show that the state cannot prove his or her guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
The most common defenses involve casting doubt upon one of the elements of the crime. While it is unlikely that a lawyer is able to prove that the victim isn’t dead, it is far more likely to cast doubt upon the motivation of the accused. If the state cannot prove that the accused killed the other party with malice aforethought (i.e., with a plan to do so), the accused cannot be found guilty of the charge of murder.
There are also several defenses that help to invalidate the charge. These can include self-defense, defense of another, or that the accused was suffering from an extreme emotional state. Also, those under the age of 18 are incapable of committing murder in the State of New York. Proving any of these elements is generally what is called an affirmative defense, but their proof can help the accused to beat the charge.
Murder is one of the most serious crimes for which an individual on Long Island can be charged. This is not something an individual can handle on his or her own. If you are being investigated for or charged with murder, it is imperative that you contact an attorney today. If you don’t have the right representation, it may very well be your life on the line. Don’t delay – the most important call you can make is to a qualified attorney.
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