Murder is a very serious charge that has the potential to change your life forever. Even wrongful accusations necessitate the skill of an experienced Raleigh murder defense lawyer, as do accidental killings. The consequences of a murder conviction can be as extreme as the death penalty in North Carolina.
If you are being investigated for murder or have been arrested, the time to contact a murder defense attorney is now. Leaving anything up to chance when such serious allegations have been made may literally mean taking your life into your own hands. You still need a homicide defense lawyer if you are innocent. Securing legal representation does not make you look guilty. It is an investment in the protection of your rights and the only way to approach a murder charge.
The attorneys at Scharff Law Firm in Raleigh believe every individual deserves to have his or her rights protected and a voice in the court room. Murder cases are rarely straightforward, and the context of the crime may determine how a crime is evaluated by a jury. We have the experience needed to approach your case from all angles and determine the best defense strategy to have the charges against you dropped or significantly reduced.
Murder Classification in North Carolina
The only way a person can be convicted of murder in North Carolina is if the prosecution can prove the killing was intentional. Here are the classifications for killings in our state:
- First degree murder – Planned or premeditated murder
- Second degree murder – Intentional, reckless killing that was not premeditated
- Voluntary manslaughter – Passion killing, when someone is killed in the heat of the moment
- Involuntary manslaughter – The killing was a complete accident, but caused directly by the actions of another person (e.g. drunk driving accident)
- Vehicular manslaughter – When negligent driving actions directly cause the death of another person
The prosecution faces a heavy burden of proof in a murder case. They must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant planned and/or acted in full awareness of what was happening.
Building a Murder Defense
Defending yourself against a murder charge requires understanding the explicit and implicit details surrounding a person’s death. Forensic evidence and witness testimony are only part of a murder case. Your Raleigh North Carolina defense attorney will begin by understanding your story and the context in which the person died. Defense strategies may include self-defense, a case of mistaken identity, proving your character, and whether or not an accident was involved.
Our first goal is to work to secure a verdict of not guilty. In situations where that is not possible, we always evaluate the worst case scenario with our clients and help them determine the best course of defense to reduce charges. If your actions were accidental or not planned, it is common for a murder charge to be dropped to involuntary manslaughter. We take our job of defending your rights seriously. Nobody should suffer injustice or face unreasonable consequences for his or her actions.
Our state is one of the few that do not impose a statute of limitations for felonies. This means a murder charge can be brought against an individual years after the fact. The further away from the time of murder, however, the more likely the evidence regarding the case and witness testimony may be jeopardized.
Every case is different, which is why we always work as our clients’ partners. You will never be prejudged when you walk through our doors. We believe in the justice system and protecting the rights of everyone who faces prosecution. Our personalized and accessible approach to cases is how Scharff Law Firm stands out from other defense firms.
Consequences of Murder
North Carolina does impose the death penalty in some first degree murder cases. A first degree murder conviction is considered a class A felony. Other murder/manslaughter conviction sentencing may mean life imprisonment or lesser sentencing, depending on the presence of aggravating or mitigating factors.
For a free consultation regarding a murder case or other federal crime, get in touch with our Raleigh murder defense attorneys today.