Contrary to what many people think, the term homicide is not the same as "murder;" homicide simply means that a person has died during the commission of the offense. It does not specifically connote any wilful actions on the part of the person responsible. In actuality, homicides can be caused by accidents, negligence, recklessness, or an individual's intentional actions. The actual crime that the actions constitute (if there is one), and thus the severity of the charges, is determined by what the government thinks they can prove with regards to the intentions of the individual who committed the act, combined with the results.
A large part of the police investigation into any homicide is to try to recreate the circumstances of the death to determine whether a crime happened, and if so, what to charge. For example, under the law, a person who is driving too fast and gets into a car accident causing the death of another driver is not held to the same standard as a person who waits and ambushes another person with a gun and shoots them on sight.
Each different homicide charge under the Penal Law has different elements, and each has a separate threshold that the prosecutor must show. For an explanation of the various charges related to homicide, see below:
- Criminally Negligent Homicide - New York Penal Law § 125.10
- Manslaughter in the Second Degree - New York Penal Law § 125.15
- Manslaughter in the First Degree - New York Penal Law § 125.20
- Murder in the Second Degree - New York Penal Law § 125.25
- Murder in the First Degree - New York Penal Law § 125.27
Homicide cases range from very straightforward to incredibly complex. Of all the types of criminal cases, homicides are the most likely to be featured in the news, which means there is frequently an element of pressure on the police department to find the person(s) responsible. Occasionally, this added pressure causes the detectives to force connections that are simply not there, or force facts to fit their theories instead of framing their theories around the facts and evidence they collect. This may lead to the NYPD arresting the wrong person.
Because of the potential for news coverage, and by virtue of the nature of these cases, homicides will frequently receive a harsher punishment, both by trial verdict or by plea bargain, than other crimes in the same class.
If you, or a loved one, has been charged with any degree of homicide, it is essential to retain a top New York homicide, murder and manslaughter attorney. It goes without saying that a homicide conviction will have a lasting impact on a person's life. Even if the conviction is for a form of homicide that does not include any specific attempt to cause death, the ability to find a job, obtain a mortgage, finance a car purchase, go back to school, or do any number of things that most people take for granted becomes extremely difficult. Fighting these cases with every resource available is the only option.
At the Law Offices of Jeffrey Lichtman, our attorneys have tried and won countless homicide cases, from Criminally Negligent Homicide to Murder. We will investigate every angle of your case, explore every defense, and expose every weakness in the government's theory. Call us today at (212) 581-1001 for a free case evaluation.