Murder, Manslaughter, and Homicide Attorney in Buffalo, NY
Technically speaking, a homicide is any unlawful death caused by a defendant. While all murders are considered homicides, not all homicides are considered murder. Murder requires a legal concept known as mens rea, or “guilty mind.” The individual charged with murder must be shown to have intended to cause death or severe injury. You cannot “accidentally” murder someone. You can, however, accidentally commit a homicide. This is generally referred to as manslaughter or criminally negligent homicide.
First-Degree Murder in Buffalo, NY
First-degree murder is considered the most severe form of murder and the most severe form of homicide. There is an element of premeditation to it. Anyone who intends to cause the death of another person and succeeds is guilty of first-degree murder. Also, a person who intends to cause severe injury and the effort results in an actual death, is guilty of first-degree murder under the law.
First-Degree Felony Murder in Buffalo, NY
Felony murder can be charged as first-degree murder when an individual does not necessarily intend to cause the death of another person, but they do intend to cause them some form of harm. If this harm results in their actual death, it does not matter if they were trying to kill them or not because they did something that could place them in immediate peril of death. Crimes that usually qualify under the felony murder rule include:
- Strong-arm robbery or robbery with a deadly weapon
- Rape, sexual assault, sexual abuse
This is not an exhaustive list, but you can see these are all crimes in which the individual committing them was indifferent to the wellbeing of the victim. The law does not want to allow someone who commits (for example) rape to say that they did not mean to kill the victim, and be able to get away with it. So that law makes it first-degree murder to intend to rape and cause another person's death, regardless of intent.
Second-Degree Murder in Buffalo, NY
Second-degree murder is complex in New York State and includes a good deal of overlap with first-degree felony murder and criminally negligent homicide. Indeed, it is somewhere between those two. It requires proof of mens rea but not the same proof as a first-degree murder. In other words, the prosecution must show a “depraved indifference” to human life as opposed to the intent to cause grave injury. This charge is typically reserved for those who cause deaths to a crowd of people as in someone driving their vehicle into a group of protesters, for example.
Manslaughter and Criminally Negligent Homicide in Buffalo, NY
Homicide is any unlawful killing. This could include a DUI crash where another driver was killed, leaving a pool in your backyard accessible to a neighborhood child to drown, or killing someone during horseplay. Here, a defendant does not necessarily have an intent to injure or kill, but they have broken some other law that made such a death likely. Since the death was avoidable by following the law, you can be charged with a crime.
Manslaughter is substantially similar to felony first-degree murder insofar as one individual attempted to injure another, but it went too far. If you get into a first-fight, for example, and land a knock-out punch, you can be charged with manslaughter if the other combatant dies under certain circumstances.
What Should I Do if I am Charged With Murder in Western New York?
Murder charges have penalties that include the death penalty in New York State. New York seldom executes people under the statute, however, as these cases end up tied up in the courts for decades. Instead, life in prison is the most likely result of a conviction. Buffalo criminal defense attorney, Daniel J. Dubois Esq. can help get the charges against you reduced, dismissed, or an acquittal at trial. Call today to learn more.