First & Second-Degree Murder Attorneys in Waterford, Michigan
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 action 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 Waterford & Clarkston 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 significance 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 a Waterford & Clarkston 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.