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Juror who prompted calls for new Ghislaine Maxwell trial turns to lawyer who defended Anna Sorokin.
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Last Updated on: 27th July 2023, 06:33 pm
When we hear the term “violent crimes,” we may think of a broad range of criminal activities. However, this category typically includes murder, manslaughter, rape, arson, and assault. These crimes are distinguishable by the use of force or the threat of force against another person. The most severe type of violent crime is homicide, which is the killing of a human being. Homicides can be either intentional or unintentional, and the legal system establishes different degrees of culpability based on the perpetrator’s intent and other relevant factors.
Murder is defined as the killing of another human being with sufficient intent. The level of intent determines the degree of the crime’s seriousness. Each state defines murder according to its jurisdiction. For instance, in Georgia, murder is defined as “unlawfully and with malice aforethought, either express or implied, causing the death of another human being.” On the other hand, Kentucky leaves out the term “malice aforethought” and states that a person is guilty of murder when they cause the death of another person with the intent to do so.
What is Malice Aforethought?
Under the common law, “malice aforethought” is the state of mind required for a murder conviction. However, not every state retains this language. Malice aforethought under the common law means any one of four states of mind:
An Example of Malice Aforethought
Consider the Georgia case of Stephens v. State. In this case, the defendant lived with her aunt, who showed signs of physical abuse. One evening, neighbors heard screams and sounds of a struggle coming from the home. Shortly after, emergency technicians arrived and found the aunt dead. The medical examiner concluded that the aunt’s injuries were caused by beatings and abuses over a period of time. Although intent to kill could not be established, the pattern of abuse and injuries was sufficient to show “malice aforethought.”
Degrees of Murder
States typically classify murder by degrees, with first-degree and second-degree murder being the most common. First-degree murder may be defined by premeditation or additional aggravating circumstances beyond “ordinary” murder. For example, in Colorado, a person commits first-degree murder if they cause the death of a person other than themselves after deliberation and with the intent to do so. Second-degree murder is any other incident of “knowingly” causing the death of a person.
In some states, the difference between first- and second-degree murder is whether the defendant pre-planned the murder. The circumstances may also determine the degree of murder. In New York, for instance, “ordinary” intent-to-kill murder is second-degree murder, while first-degree requires some form of aggravating circumstance. This could include the victim being an on-duty police officer, peace officer, firefighter, or any one of a number of enumerated “aggravating” circumstances.
Understanding the Different Forms of Murder
The “depraved indifference” standard under the common law allows a person to be convicted of murder without the intent to kill. This was exemplified in the Pennsylvania case of Commonwealth v. Malone. In this case, a person was convicted of second-degree murder when a (modified) game of “Russian roulette” resulted in the death of one of the participants. The shooter was convicted despite having no intent to kill.
The “felony-murder” rule is a common law doctrine that holds a person criminally liable for murder if a death results from the commission of a felony,
In criminal law, there are various charges and penalties that one can face. It’s important to understand the differences between them to know what to expect in court. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at three criminal charges – manslaughter, assault, and rape – and their definitions, different types, and corresponding penalties.
Manslaughter is a serious, but lesser form of homicide than murder. Voluntary manslaughter is intentional killing with some form of mitigation that reduces the charge from murder. On the other hand, involuntary manslaughter means homicide through recklessness, but with no malice aforethought. Involuntary manslaughter is the appropriate charge when a defendant commits an act that results in death, and the act is inherently dangerous or done with disregard for a risk to human life.
Assault is defined as attempting to cause physical injury to another or to put another in fear of imminent, serious injury to his body. The assault is aggravated if a deadly weapon is used or if the attempt to cause injury manifests an extreme indifference to the value of human life and is done purposefully, knowingly, or recklessly. The laws defining assault vary significantly from state to state.
Rape occurs when a person engages in sexual intercourse with another person without their consent. Many states also define rape as intercourse with someone incapable of giving consent due to a mental defect or unsoundness of mind. Modern rape and sexual assault laws have dispensed with virtually all of the common law requirements. Sexual assaults that don’t rise to the level of rape are also prosecuted and their degrees and punishments vary based on the level of force used, the conduct engaged in and the age of the victim.
If you’re facing criminal charges, it’s important to work with a competent and experienced attorney who can help you understand the charges, penalties, and possible outcomes of your case. At Spodek Law Group, our attorney, Todd Spodek, has years of experience handling criminal cases and can help you navigate the criminal justice system. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.
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