Serving Scranton, Tunkhannock, and Wyoming County
Criminal Homicide is charged when a person causes the death of another person intentionally, knowingly, recklessly, or negligently. It is typically considered to be the most serious criminal offense in the criminal justice system in state and federal courts. The law reserves the most severe criminal penalties for homicide crimes. It is no different in Pennsylvania. Prosecutors are unrelenting in pursuing criminal homicide charges, and these cases almost always proceed to trial. Therefore, if the Commonwealth is investigating you or has charged you with Criminal Homicide, you must immediately seek the help of an attorney to assist you. The potential consequences are dire, and in Pennsylvania, that may even include the death penalty. The Peters Law Firm will represent you zealously and prepare for and pursue the most effective defense available in a criminal homicide case.
First-degree criminal homicide is the crime for which Pennsylvania reserves the harshest punishment – a conviction carries either a death sentence or a mandatory life sentence without the possibility of parole. Under the statute, the crime is defined as intentionally killing another person through poison, by “lying in wait,” or by any means that is premeditated and deliberate. “Lying in wait” means the defendant purposefully hid or concealed himself or herself to carry out a surprise attack on the victim, which shows careful deliberation. Premeditation can be formed almost instantly.
Typically called “felony murder,” the statute defines second-degree criminal homicide as a crime that a person commits while perpetrating another felony as a principal or as an accomplice. This crime does not require any premeditation or deliberation, but the defendant does not have to be the person who carried out the homicide but only that he or she helped in the commission of a felony. A person convicted of felony-murder faces life incarceration without the possibility of parole.
Third-degree criminal homicide is the catch-all provision for all other kinds of homicide in Pennsylvania’s criminal statute. A third-degree criminal homicide occurs when one person kills another but without deliberation or premeditation and not during the commission of another felony. The crime of third-degree murder is punishable by up to forty years of jail time.
Voluntary and Involuntary Manslaughter
When a person kills another intentionally or knowingly, motivated by a sudden heat of passion caused by genuine provocation by the victim, and without legal justification, then that person may be charged with voluntary manslaughter. The crime is a first-degree felony that is punishable by ten to twenty years in prison. On the other hand, if an individual kills another unintentionally while performing a reckless or grossly negligent act, then that person has committed involuntary manslaughter. This offense is a first-degree misdemeanor that is punishable with two and a half to five years of jail time.
You must not delay hiring an attorney to defend you against a criminal homicide charge. The Peters Law Firm can be your advocate in the Northeastern Pennsylvania area. In the Scranton area, contact us at (570) 963-1610, Tunkhannock and Wyoming County at (570) 836-0700 or throughout Northeast Pennsylvania at our main office in Clarks Summit by calling (570) 585-0707 or by visiting us.