Of all the crimes a person can commit in the United States, murder is considered to be the most serious. When a murder is believed to have taken place, police and prosecutors go after the alleged murderer very aggressively. While the public will often appreciate their efforts, there are times when these actions are overzealous and lead to a person being wrongfully charged with murder. Since a murder conviction can lead to perhaps a life sentence in prison or even a death sentence, it is crucial anyone charged with murder have experienced lawyers handling their case from the beginning.
Why are Innocent People Accused of Murder?
To the surprise of many people, individuals every day are charged with murders they did not commit. As to why this occurs, there are many reasons. In most cases, poor investigative techniques used by police will often point the finger of blame at a person prematurely. Since police are always eager to get murder cases solved as fast as possible, they sometimes fail to follow leads and gather all essential evidence needed for the case. As a result, innocent people find their lives suddenly in limbo. In other situations, police may tamper with evidence or use illegal evidence against a person so that an arrest can be made. Finally, assumptions are always made in these cases by police and prosecutors, resulting in a rush to judgment that can sway public opinion and make it even more difficult for a defendant to prove their innocence.
Impact of Murder Charges
When you have been charged with murder, it will affect you as well as your family and friends. Since murder cases are always high-profile, it is almost guaranteed your personal and professional reputations will be severely damaged, perhaps forever. Even if you know you are innocent and are eventually cleared of the charges in a court of law, much damage has likely already been done to your life. To ensure murder charges against you never make it to the point of a conviction, hire attorneys who have years of experience in criminal defense matters.
While each state may have its own specific definition of murder, the crime is generally defined as intentionally taking the life of another individual. In addition, you could also be convicted of murder if you commit certain acts that clearly threaten another person’s life. Depending on the nature of the alleged offense and the victim or victims involved, it is very possible prosecutors on the state or even federal level may seek the death penalty against you in court. Since your own life may literally be on the line in these cases, you should always trust your case to New Jersey murder/homicide lawyers who have a history of success helping clients walk out of court with their freedom.
Beyond a Reasonable Doubt
If you have been charged with murder, prosecutors who are going after you in court must be able to convince a jury beyond a reasonable doubt that you are in fact guilty of the crime. Known as capital murder, this means jury members must have no doubt whatsoever that you intended to kill the victim. While this may sound like an insurmountable obstacle to you at the time, it can actually work to your advantage if you have a skilled murder/homicide lawyer on your side. Since there is always a large amount of evidence presented in these cases, having a lawyer who can carefully examine evidence and point out any discrepancies to a jury can be beneficial. Also, since police will be called to testify against you, working with a lawyer who is skilled at cross-examination can often expose faulty investigative methods police used while at the crime scene.
If you kill someone accidentally or while in the act of self-defense, you may not face criminal charges. But in some situations, prosecutors may try to charge you with manslaughter rather than murder. While not as serious as murder charges, they do still carry significant prison sentences and other penalties. If a prosecutor is determined to pursue murder charges against you, they may examine whether the charge will be first or second-degree murder. As for the difference, first-degree is premeditated murder, while second-degree is accidental. Yet no matter whether you are facing murder or manslaughter charges, always put your case in the hands of murder/homicide lawyers who will protect your legal rights each step of the way.
When charged with murder, expect police and prosecutors to do all they can to force you into a confession. Rather than make this mistake or allow yourself to be questioned under duress, say and do as little as possible until you have hired a New Jersey murder/homicide lawyer who can be present during any and all questioning.