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Frequently Asked Questions About New York’s Murder Laws

Murder crimes are taken very seriously and carry harsh penalties and consequences. Anyone facing a murder crimes charge must get legal help and representation from an experienced homicide lawyer. Call the office of Joey Jackson Law, PLLC., at 833-563-9522 to discuss your charges with our New York murder defense attorneys. Read on to know more about these charges as explained by our highly knowledgeable criminal defense attorneys.

What is murder?

Murder is a form of homicide (unlawful killing) under New York state law where the accused is charged with intentionally taking someone else’s life without legal justification. It is classified as a felony and could result in a life sentence if convicted. A person may also be charged with murder where they act in a manner considered to be deprived or inhumane, and death results from their conduct. Additionally, an individual may be charged with murder if someone dies when they are committing another serious crime like robbery, burglary, arson and several others. This is called felony murder.

What are the different categories of murder or homicide?

There are various classifications of murder under New York state law. All of which could result in a life sentence. There’s murder in the first and second degree; felony murder and aggravated murder. While each is punished severely, they are separate and unique crimes. Murder in the second degree is the most commonly charged as it relates to the intentional killing of another. First-degree murder, on the other hand, is reserved for the killing of a judge, a police officer, a peace officer, a firefighter and other first responders. Certain types of felony murder can also result in a person being charged with first-degree murder. Similarly, aggravated murder parallels first-degree murder in many respects and provides prosecutors with yet another tool to ensure that people who commit homicides are held accountable.

There are also lesser categories of homicide such a manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide. Manslaughter in the first degree can be charged where a person intends to cause serious physical injury, and death results. A conviction could result in a 25-year sentence. Manslaughter in the second degree can be charged where a person acts recklessly, and death occurs. A conviction could result in a sentence of up to 15 years. You will notice that unlike murder, manslaughter does not require any intent to kill. Manslaughter in the first degree merely requires intent to cause serious physical injury, whereas manslaughter in the second degree only requires that the subject’s actor be reckless.

Criminally negligent homicide is when a death results because a person was being criminally negligent. What this means is that the person’s behavior was so blameworthy, irresponsible and neglectful as to be deviating from how a reasonable person would behave under similar circumstances. A conviction here could result in a sentence of up to four years.

Can I be charged with murder if I’m defending myself?

Yes. You can still be charged with murder of some form if you are defending yourself. Simply because you are charged, does not mean that you are guilty. Self-defense is an affirmative defense, which means that if a jury accepts this defense you can be cleared of any wrongdoing. Under New York state law, you may ask the judge to provide the jury with a self-defense instruction if there is any reasonable view of the evidence that you were defending yourself or a third person from the immediate use of deadly physical force. It is called a “justification” instruction in as much as it justifies the use of deadly force.

A person may use deadly force to defend themselves or another under the following circumstances:

1) Where they reasonably believe that the other person is using or is about to use deadly force

2) Where they are unable to retreat safely in the face of such force. In such a situation, the use of deadly force is considered reasonable and will therefore be considered justified.

What are the punishments for murder?

Under New York state law, there are five categories of felonies, ranging from “A” to “E” – with “A” being the most serious and resulting in a sentence of 25 years to life. As an example, a person charged with murder in the first degree, murder in the second degree or felony murder will be looking at such a sentence upon conviction.

On the other hand, a person charged with manslaughter in the first degree will be facing a “B” felony. Make no mistake about it; a “B” felony is still punished stiffly. Upon conviction, the sentence could be up to 25 years in prison. By contrast, manslaughter in the second-degree is a C felony, which carries a maximum sentence of up to 15 years in jail.

The type of homicide punished the least is criminal negligent homicide. It is still a serious charge inasmuch as it constitutes a felony, but it is classified only as an “E.” This means that there is no minimum required sentence and that the maximum sentence is four years.

As noted, the degree of punishment is tied to the actor’s conduct and whether it is intentional, depraved, inhumane on the one hand, or reckless, careless and irresponsible on the other.

What is the best way to defend against a murder case?

The best way to defend against a murder case is by hiring our firm. We have the background, knowledge, skill, talent and expertise to navigate our way through this process. Having successfully handled murder cases not only as prosecutors but as defense attorneys, we are conversant with the approach required to produce effective results. These cases require significant due diligence in the form of investigation, attentiveness to detail, interviewing of witnesses, reviewing of all documents, pictures, video and audio tapes, statements, expert reports and scientific evidence.

We work to exonerate the accused and give them the freedom and peace of mind that comes with being found not guilty. Contact us at 833-563-9522 to talk with our New York City murder defense attorney.