Charged with murder in New York State?
It goes without saying that being charged with causing the death of another person is the most serious of crimes and you need an attorney with skill and resolve to fight for your rights. Whether the charges are for murder, homicide or manslaughter you need legal counsel immediately.
In a general sense, homicide and its variants involve the unlawful killing of another human being. As you can imagine, this description is deceptively simple. There are many complicated classifications for the different types of homicide in New York and it is virtually impossible for you to get fair and reasonable treatment if you rely on a public defender or decide not to hire an attorney. This is not meant to “sell you” on any particular attorney, but it is the truth.
What are the various types of murder and how can they affect my case?
Given the many different classifications for murder, there are also many different potential punishments you could face depending the circumstances of your individual case. All homicide crimes will be treated as felonies under New York criminal statutes. The most serious homicide charges are murder in the first degree, murder in the second degree, and aggravated murder.
- Murder in the first degree– The most common occurrence for someone to be charged with murder in the first degree in New York State is when the defendant showed intent to commit the crime prior to actually following through on the act. First degree murder requires an aggravating factor such as killing a police officer, judge, witness, or committing a murder for hire. Additionally, first degree murder may be charged as “felony murder” (killing somebody during the commission of some other felony). Murder in the first degree is a felony and defendants can go to jail for life
- Murder in the second degree-Defendants charged with murder in the second degree also showed intent to commit the crime, but there is a mitigating circumstance that can be used in their defense. For example, the defendant could be ruled to be under extreme emotional distress at the time that the crime was committed or the defendant was NOT in possession of a deadly weapon at the time of the crime. If there was extreme emotional distress, the killing may be reduced to manslaughter. Murder in the second degree does not require an aggravating factor to be proven.
- Aggravated murder– like the other forms of murder, aggravated murder is an intentional crime requiring that you intended to cause the death of the intended victim or a third party. It is “aggravated” where the victim was a police officer, firefighter, paramedic or other public or safety official. Even if you did not know that the person was in one of these protected classes, if you had reason to know of their status you may be subjected to criminal liability for aggravated murder.
Although the punishments may not be as severe, other lesser homicide offenses are equally serious. These crimes include:
- Manslaughter- Like murder, this crime involves the death of another person. The difference between manslaughter and murder is that manslaughter does not require you to have intentionally killed the other person. Rather, manslaughter statutes establish that you must have intended to cause serious bodily harm or injury to another person and that that harm inadvertently led to the other person’s death. Manslaughter charges may also result where you engaged in conduct that, while not intentional, was so reckless that you reasonably should have foreseen that the death of another person could result. Manslaughter may also involve recklessly causing the death of a woman while performing an abortion procedure on her or where you assist another person in the commission of suicide. This crime is broken down into first and second degrees.
- Aggravated manslaughter- Aggravated manslaughter is analogous to aggravated murder in that the elements of the crime are the same as standard manslaughter and the crime requires either the reckless killing of a police officer or other public safety official or the intentional infliction of bodily harm on a public safety official that leads to that other person’s death. This crime is also broken down into first and second degrees.
- Vehicular manslaughter-vehicular manslaughter charges may be filed against you when in the course of operating a motor vehicle under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or a combination thereof; you caused the death of another person. Under these laws, motor vehicle includes many different types including: boats, automobiles, tractor-trailer trucks, snowmobiles, all-terrain vehicles, etc. Like many other crimes, vehicular manslaughter is broken down into degrees. Charges of second degree vehicular manslaughter may be filed under the circumstances described above. If at the time of the death you were intoxicated with a blood alcohol content of .18 or higher, you may be charged with first degree vehicular manslaughter.
- Abortion (in certain circumstances) – Outside of justifiable circumstances, abortion or self-abortion is a crime. If you commit or assist a woman in committing an abortional act outside of certain circumstances you may be held criminally liable. Abortional acts can include using drugs or physical acts to cause a woman to have a miscarriage. If the miscarriage is caused after more than twenty four weeks of pregnancy, you may be charged with abortion in the first degree. Justifiable circumstances for an abortion exist where a licensed physician performs the procedure and believes the procedure is in the patient’s best interest or where the physician directs a woman on how to perform the procedure in a medically appropriate way prior to twenty four weeks of pregnancy (e.g. “Plan B” birth control).
- Criminally negligent homicide-criminal negligence is a lower standard for criminal liability. Even if you did not intentionally or recklessly cause the death of another person, you may still be criminally liable. This type of homicide requires that your conduct was a gross deviation from that of a reasonably prudent person or that you failed to perceive an unjustifiably risk to human health or safety. Under a “reckless” standard you knew of the risk but did the act anyway. Under criminal negligence, you did not know of the risk but should have and as a result your grossly negligent conduct led to the death of another person. If the person you kill as a result of your criminal negligence is a police officer you may be charged with aggravated criminally negligent homicide.
What specialized skill do you have to help me defend my criminal case?
Criminal lawyer George Vomvolakis has years of experience as both a prosecutor and a criminal defense lawyer. He has been on both sides of the aisle when it comes to prosecuting and defending the most serious of cases, including murder. He has also been cited as a criminal law expert and has offered commentary at the local and national level on various media outlets including TruTV, Court TV, and other new sources.
Because of his background he is particularly adept at handling more than just your criminal case. He knows full well that murder cases garner a lot of media attention and he can effectively manage both the prosecution and the media or public interest side of things.
What are the potential punishments for causing the death of another person?
- If you are charged with any degree or murder or aggravated murder do not talk with the police prior to retaining a criminal defense attorney. No good can come from making statements to the police without the advice of legal counsel. You will be facing a Class A-1 felony and the potential of life in prison.
- If charged with manslaughter or its aggravated variant, you will be facing a Class B felony and 5-25 years in prison.
- Manslaughter in the second degree, vehicular manslaughter and aggravated criminally negligent murder are all treated as Class C felonies and carry a prison term of 3.5 to 15 years.
- Abortion in the first degree and vehicular manslaughter in the second degree are treated as Class D felonies which can subject you to 2-7 years of jail time.
- Criminally negligent homicide is a Class E felony and requires you to serve at least 1 year in prison.
Keep in mind that these are only rough guidelines for potential punishments and you case may vary greatly determining on the particular circumstances and the prosecutor’s discretion. Regardless of your case facts, causing the death of another person must be taken with the utmost seriousness. Attorney George Vomvolakis has worked as a prosecutor and he knows how the state will build its case against you. Call our experienced criminal attorneys today for a free evaluation of your case.