Murder of any kind is an extremely serious criminal offense, but in the eyes of the law, the circumstances under which a murder was committed, and the factors that played a role in the murder can make some murders more serious than others. The most serious type of homicide crime is First-Degree Murder, but depending on the circumstances, some murders may be considered Second-Degree murders, or even manslaughter.
This distinction is extremely important, but is even more important if the evidence is stacked against you. While you can defend yourself from every type of crime, there are times when the case against you is extremely strong, and your chances of acquittal are low. In these instances, it still behooves you to defend yourself with the aid of an attorney because even if a legal defense cannot have your charges dropped, you could be facing Second-Degree Murder charges instead of First-Degree.
The difference between these two charges may not seem significant to you, but it could literally be a life and death situation in a state like Louisiana, where the death penalty is still an option. A First-Degree Murder conviction could see you facing capital punishment, but a second-degree murder charge has lower penalties.
Because the federal guidelines for Second-Degree Murder penalties are very vague, the penalties for such a conviction could range from a few years in prison to your entire life. A great deal of the decision is left up to the judge, so which Louisiana court in which you face murder charges could play a large role in determining your sentence. However, the important thing to remember is that with a Second-Degree Murder conviction, the death penalty is not an option, so having the charges reduced can still be very important.