By: Passalacqua & Associates

What Steps Should You Take Immediately After Being Charged With Murder?

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Could You Be Charged With Murder?

Murder is one of the most serious crimes under New York State law. In some cases, a murder conviction may be penalized with a life sentence with no possibility of parole. If you are facing a murder charge, now or in the future, contact a Syracuse homicide attorney at once.

If you are prosecuted for a murder in this state, what are your rights? What steps will you need to take? Will there be any way for you to avoid a murder conviction – and a lengthy prison sentence? And how will a Syracuse homicide lawyer defend you against a murder charge?

What Homicide Charge Could Be Filed Against You?

The most serious homicide charge, of course, is first-degree murder. First-degree murder is the intentional, unjustified killing of someone, and it includes at least one of these aggravating factors:

  1. The victim was a police officer, judge, corrections employee, or criminal case witness.
  2. The murder happened while the defendant was serving a life sentence.
  3. The victim was tortured.
  4. The murder was meant as an act of terrorism.
  5. The murderer was hired. Both the murderer and the person who paid may be charged.

Second-degree murder takes place in this state when:

  1.  One person intentionally kills another person without committing a felony under New York’s felony murder rule.
  2.  One person unintentionally kills another person in a way that demonstrates the perpetrator’s “depraved indifference” to human life.
  3.  One person unintentionally kills another person while committing or endeavoring to commit a felony under New York’s felony murder rule.

What is New York’s Felony Murder Rule?

New York State’s version of the felony murder rule provides that:

  1.  A homicide perpetrated during the commission of particular felonies – without the intent to kill – is charged as second-degree murder.
  2.  A homicide perpetrated during the commission of particular felonies – with the intent to kill – is charged as first-degree murder.

The particular felonies that are included under the felony murder rule are: arson, burglary, robbery, and kidnapping; first-degree rape, first-degree criminal sexual act, first-degree sexual abuse, and aggravated sexual abuse; first-degree escape and second-degree escape.

How Will Your Lawyer Defend You Against a Murder Charge?

The usual defenses against murder charges are lack of criminal intent, self-defense, and mental incapacity at the time of the homicide. You might also claim that someone else committed the murder and that you’ve been misidentified, or in some cases, that you’ve been framed.

Under the felony murder rule, a defendant may also claim that the underlying, original felony was committed by a group and that the defendant:

  1.  did not solicit, commit, or assist with the killing
  2.  was not carrying a deadly weapon
  3.  had no reason to believe that another person in the group carried a deadly weapon
  4.  had no reason to believe that someone in the group would act in a way that caused a death

A Syracuse homicide attorney will comprehensively assess the details of the charge against you, compile and examine evidence on your behalf, and develop an aggressive, effective defense strategy based on the specifics of the case.

If You Are Charged With Murder, What Steps Should You Take?

If you are placed under arrest in the Syracuse area and charged with murder, it is imperative to contact a Syracuse homicide lawyer immediately. Do not discuss your case with anyone other than your lawyer. Your right to remain silent applies whether or not the police read your rights.

If the police have questions for you, say something such as, “I prefer to speak with my attorney before I answer any questions,” and then say nothing more. Under the U.S. Constitution, you can’t be penalized for declining to answer a police officer’s questions.

If the police want to ask you questions, politely insist on speaking first with your defense lawyer. Especially when the charge against you is a murder charge, properly exercising your rights can make the difference between a not guilty verdict and a conviction followed by years in prison.

What Are the Penalties for Murder Convictions in New York State?

A conviction for first-degree murder in this state may be penalized with a life sentence with no possibility of parole or with up to forty years in a New York State prison.

A conviction for second-degree murder may be penalized with a life sentence with the possibility of parole after twenty-five years, a fifteen-to-twenty-five-year prison term, or a life sentence with no possibility of parole if the victim was under fourteen years old.

With the stakes so high, you can’t even consider acting as your own attorney in a murder case. You must be defended by a Syracuse attorney who has years of experience – and a record of success – representing those who are charged with the most serious crimes in the Syracuse area.

What if the Evidence of Your Guilt is Undeniable?

If you’re innocent, your Syracuse criminal defense attorney will seek to have the charge dropped, the case dismissed, or to secure an acquittal at trial. However, if the evidence that you committed a murder is conclusive, and if your conviction is inevitable, your defense lawyer:

  1.  may negotiate with the prosecutor to reduce the charge against you
  2.  may negotiate for reduced or alternative sentencing
  3.  may in some cases file an appeal on your behalf

Let Passalacqua & Associates Advise and Represent You

If you are charged with murder or manslaughter in the Syracuse or Utica area, whether you are guilty or innocent, you must be advised and defended by a Syracuse criminal defense attorney at Passalacqua & Associates.

The award-winning team of defense attorneys at Passalacqua & Associates has more than three decades of experience defending those who are charged with the most serious crimes. We fight aggressively and effectively for every client and for the best possible conclusion to every case.

We have law offices in Utica, Syracuse, and Rome, but if you’re charged with manslaughter or murder anywhere in the state, currently or in the future, call Passalacqua & Associates – at once – at 315-277-3548 to arrange for a no-cost, in-depth evaluation of your case with no obligation.