While it is likely an overwhelming time emotionally, those accused of murder or other Louisiana homicide crimes should take the time to protect their name and assert their rights in the matter. Doing so could help the accused clear their name and avoid harsh penalties. In this respect, it may be helpful to understand the difference between first and second-degree murder.

What constitutes second-degree murder in Louisiana? Section 30.1 of Louisiana State Statutes defines second-degree murder as the killing of another person with the “specific intent” to either inflict bodily harm or actually kill. This crime also occurs when an offender is engaged in or attempting to commit certain crimes, such as first or second degree forcible rape, aggravated arson, aggravated burglary, armed robbery and other similar crimes even if the accused had no intent to kill or to inflict bodily harm.

Second-degree murder also occurs when an offender unlawfully distributes or dispenses a controlled substance and it is the direct case of death of the person that ingested or consumed the controlled substance. Additionally, those who distribute or dispense a controlled substance to another person and that person subsequently distributes it, he or she could be charged with second-degree murder if the controlled substance is a direct cause of death of a person that consumed or ingested it.

Those accused of second-degree murder could face harsh penalties. In Louisiana, this could amount to a punishment of life imprisonment without the benefit of parole. Therefore, it is important to consider criminal defense options available. Taking defense legal action could for instance help a defendant challenge and suppress evidence, helping them reduce or dismiss the charges against them.