First-degree murder is possibly the worst offense you can be accused of and leads to severe punishment if the jury finds you guilty. The exact sentence varies by state, as some states allow the death penalty while others do not. In almost all cases, the felon will have to spend life in prison, with little chance of parole. Defending clients against accusations of first-degree murder is complicated. There are several defenses that attorneys consider when handling such cases.
Most defenses usually fall into two categories; claiming that the defendant did not commit the crime, or admitting the crime and arguing that first-degree murder was not committed. Defendants who admit to committing murder must prove that it was justified, and they had no other option. Putting forward such a defense puts the onus on you to bring forward proof. You may also argue that the prosecution does not have enough evidence to prove that you willfully and deliberately killed the victim. Using this defense does not require the defense to bring proof, and it puts the prosecution under pressure. Most defense attorneys turn towards mistaken identity as a defense strategy. The defendant asserts an alibi to prove they were somewhere else at the time of the incident. The defense attorney usually tries to bring up other possible suspects who might be involved.
The defendant also has the right to bring forward legal justification for the homicide. The most common justification is self-defense or the defense of others. To successfully argue this defense, the attorney must prove that the defendant was resisting fear of death or bodily harm. Other forms of defense include manslaughter and insanity defense. Using manslaughter as a defense means you admit to the murder but did not have the intention of killing the person. This defense, if successful may get the charges changed to second or third-degree murder. An insanity defense is complicated and riskier because it is harder to prove in the court of law.
If you have been charged with first-degree murder, it is important to consult an experienced attorney. Discuss the situation with your attorney, who will come up with a defense strategy for you.