If you’ve been charged with a homicide under Pennsylvania criminal law, you need serious legal help in order to make sure your rights are protected. There are varying degrees of homicide which depend on the circumstances of each case and each of these degrees come with different penalties. In today’s blog our Western PA Criminal Defense Attorneysprovide information about the crimes of first-degree murder, second-degree murder, and manslaughter or third-degree murder.
First-degree murder is the most serious homicide charge one can face under PA criminal law. This is murder that has been premeditated, meaning the murder had to be planned and thought about ahead of time. For a murder to be categorized as first-degree, there must also be additional circumstances. Such circumstances can be: kidnapping, burglary or robbery, or extreme torture. Therefore, if someone is kidnapped and subsequently killed, this would be a first-degree murder.
Second-Degree Murder is similar to first-degree murder in the sense that it must be premeditated. The difference, however, is that under Pennsylvania criminal law, second-degree murder does not require any additional circumstances. For example, second-degree murder would be the charge for an individual who planned to kill their significant other in their own home.
Manslaughter or third-degree murder charges represent “crime of passion” murders and things such as death caused by DUI. Crimes of passion are murders that happen in the moment, without premeditation. When one typically thinks of a crime of passion, they think of the age old tale of catching your significant other with another person and ultimately murdering them both. As long as this wasn’t premeditated, this charge would most likely be manslaughter and therefore, premeditation is not required for charge of manslaughter.
If you are facing any sort of homicide charge, you should seek the representation of an experienced Pennsylvania Criminal Defense attorney, like our team of Pittsburgh Criminal Defense Lawyers at Lisa Marie Vari & Associates immediately. To schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys, contact us today!