Oakland County First & Second Degree Murder Lawyer
First degree premeditated murder is established when the prosecutor can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused caused the victim’s death by performing a specified act that killed the individual; that the accused intended to kill the victim; that this intent was premeditated [that is, thought out before the murder]; that the killing was deliberate; and that the murderous act was not justified or in any way excusable.
First degree murder is a specific intent crime. Causation is often one of the primary litigated issues in the case, as with many homicides. A good criminal defense attorney, such as the Oakland County first & second degree murder lawyers at Clarkston Legal will develop a causation angle to create reasonable doubt in the minds of the jury; special jury instructions are also available if causation of death is at issue in a case.
Second degree murder is a “lesser included offense” to first degree murder. Often, when facing trial for first degree murder, a jury verdict of second degree murder is considered a great defense victory and will have significant at the time of sentencing; the convicted individual will actually be parole eligible at some point down the road whereas a conviction of murder in the first degree carries a mandatory life sentence without the possibility of parole.
If a second degree murder case is submitted to a jury, the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused caused the victim’s death, just as in a first degree murder charge. In a second degree murder case, however, there are three states of mind that can be proved by the prosecutor to establish a case: that the defendant intended to kill, intended to do great bodily harm, or knowingly created a high risk of death or great bodily harm as a result of the defendant’s acts. As with first degree murder, the prosecutor must establish that the killing in a case of second degree murder was not justified or excusable.
Second degree murder has developed a body of specific case law as it is often a hotly contested charge. Death resulting from drunk driving has been ruled within the scope of wanton or reckless behavior sufficient to establish the intent element of second degree murder, even though other [lesser] homicide charges could have been brought. It is important to remember in a homicide case that the county prosecutor has broad prosecutorial discretion to select which charges to bring against a person.
Call an Oakland County First & Second Degree Murder Lawyer Right Away
Being charged with first or second degree murder is a very serious situation. Your best bet is to reach out to highly skilled homicide lawyers at Clarkston Legal who have extensive experience representing such cases. We offer a free initial consultation to discuss your options.