Pennsylvania Homicide Charges
Homicide can be described as an act of killing another human being, be it lawfully or unlawfully. According to the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes Title 18 Section 2501, a person is guilty of criminal homicide if they intentionally, recklessly, or negligently cause the death of another human being. Some common examples of homicide include:
- Killing another person intentionally
- Killing in self-defense
- State-sanctioned killing during war
- Killing another person negligently or recklessly in an accident
Types of Homicide
Under Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes Title 18 Section 2501(b), criminal homicide is classified into murder, voluntary manslaughter, and involuntary manslaughter.
Depending on the circumstances surrounding the criminal offense, murder may be charged in Pennsylvania as first-degree murder, second-degree murder, or third-degree murder (Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes Title 18 Section 2502).
- First-Degree Murder: A criminal homicide constitutes first-degree murder when it is committed by an intentional killing.
- Second-Degree Murder: A criminal homicide constitutes second-degree murder when it is committed while the defendant was committing a felony.
- Third-Degree Murder: All other forms of murder shall be considered third-degree murder.
Pursuant to Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes Title 18 Section 2503(a), a person who kills someone without lawful justification commits voluntary manslaughter, if at the time of the killing they are acting under a sudden and intense passion resulting from serious provocation by:
- The individual killed
- Another whom the actor endeavors to kill, but they negligently or accidentally cause the death of the individual killed
According to Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes Title 18 Section 2504(a), a person is guilty of involuntary manslaughter when they cause the death of another person while doing a lawful or unlawful act in a reckless or grossly negligent manner.
Causing or Aiding Suicide
Pursuant to Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes Title 18 Section 2505(a), a person may be convicted of criminal homicide for causing another to commit suicide only if they intentionally cause such suicide by force, duress, or deception.
Drug Delivery Resulting in Death
According to Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes Title 18 Section 2506(a), a person commits a felony of the first degree if the person intentionally administers, dispenses, delivers, gives, prescribes, sells, or distributes any controlled substance or counterfeit controlled substance, and another person dies as a result of using the substance.
If convicted on any charge of murder or non-negligent manslaughter in Pennsylvania, the possible penalties include:
- First-Degree Murder: This is the most serious criminal offense anyone can commit in Pennsylvania. Punishable by the death penalty or mandatory life in prison without the possibility of parole.
- Second-Degree Murder: Punishable by mandatory life in prison without the possibility of parole.
- Third-Degree Murder: This is a first-degree felony. Punishable by 10 to 20 years in prison.
- Voluntary Manslaughter: This is a first-degree felony. Punishable by 10 to 20 years in prison.
- Involuntary Manslaughter: This is a first-degree misdemeanor. Punishable by up to five years in prison. The offense may be charged as a second-degree felony if the victim is less than 12 years old and is in the care, custody, or control of the person responsible for their death.
- Causing or Aiding Suicide: This is a second-degree felony. Punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000.
- Drug Delivery Resulting in Death: This is a first-degree felony. Punishable by up to 40 years in prison and a maximum fine of $25,000.
When facing criminal homicide or murder charges, your attorney may attempt to fight the allegations against you by building a defense strategy on the basis of:
- Defense of another person
- Defense of property
- Accidental killing without any criminal intent while engaging in a lawful activity
- Insanity or lack of mental capacity
- Mistaken identity
- False and coerced confessions
- Lack of connection between the victim's death and your actions
Work with an Experienced Attorney
When facing homicide or murder allegations, defending yourself against those charges could easily expose you to being convicted and receiving the maximum penalties. If convicted, you could be facing serious consequences, including hefty fines, life without the possibility of parole, and other devastating social consequences. Retaining an experienced Pennsylvania criminal defense attorney is imperative to defend your rights and determine your most effective defense strategy.
At Marc V. Taiani, Esquire and Allegheny Attorneys at Law, P.C., I'm devoted to handling a variety of legal matters, including criminal homicide cases. As your legal counsel, I will investigate the facts surrounding your personal situation, explore your possible legal defenses, and strategize an effective defense in pursuit of a favorable outcome for your case. Having me on your side can make a huge difference between being convicted and staying out of jail.