Damico & Stockstill, Attorneys at Law

What are some forms of defense for first-degree murder?

First-degree murder charges can have extremely severe consequences that can include extensive jail time and large fines. To avoid these penalties, there are several forms of defense that can be used. Defenses for first-degree murder come in two main categories. First, defenses that have the accused admitting to killing the individual but refuting the claim that they committed first-degree murder and, secondly, a defense that denies the murder was committed by the accused.

The defense may claim that the accused was mistaken for someone else, or to be more precise, the identity of the accused was mistaken with that of the killer. The may suggest that the prosecution has charged the wrong person and the real killer is someone else. They can solidify this claim by providing an alibi which puts the accused at another location at the time of the crime or by challenging the evidence provided by the plaintiff whether this is in the form of witnesses or forensic evidence. Another strategy is to claim that the accused only used fatal force after the reasonable requirement for the fatal force was needed to ensure the self-preservation of the accused. The accused must not have started the conflict, and the amount of force used must be proportional to the severity of the perceived threat. In some states, it is also required that before the use of lethal force, the person must make an attempt to escape for this to be categorized as self-defense.

Additionally, the defense can claim that the accused only used lethal force to ensure the preservation of others. Generally, the same rules apply to this form of defense as they do to self-defense. The use of lethal force by police and other public workers can be seen as justified in the eyes of the law if used while performing the duties expected of the officers, though the officer must not have malicious intent or use lethal force in the form of negligent behavior.

First-degree murder cases are frightening. It is highly recommended that you consult an experienced attorney near you. You do not want to face this kind of charge without the help of a knowledgeable attorney by your side.

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Damico & Stockstill, Attorneys at Law

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