There is no crime more terrifying than murder. There is blood on your hands, and you should seek criminal lawyers in Brampton to get out of this mess, but many people charged with murder are unsure what good a criminal lawyer can be to them. Surprisingly, defense lawyers are particularly helpful in the case of murder charges as they have years of experience in this field. However, this article will take a closer look at how these law professionals can be helpful specifically.
1: Murder, Manslaughter, and Homicide
One thing a good lawyer can do is see if the murder charge can become another charge. Murder, manslaughter, and homicide all have slightly different rulings under Canadian law. Here are some very brief definitions of all of them:
- Homicide—To cause the death of another human being by any means, either directly or indirectly.
- Murder—Intentionally causing the harm or death of another person.
- Manslaughter—Unintentionally causing the death of another person.
A professional defence lawyer will, at least, be able to negotiate your murder charges down—especially if it’s your first time and could have been an accident.
2: First or Second Degree?
If your lawyer cannot rule manslaughter, they may need to nitpick the finer details of your crime. This may involve figuring out if your crime qualifies as first- or second-degree murder. These two forms have different punishments, mostly in time spent in jail.
In general, first-degree murder covers larger, more spectacular murders. For example:
- Murder was premeditated—that is, it was planned.
- Murdering a policeman/prison staff.
- Murder during another crime (rape, terrorism, etc.)
Anything else falls under second-degree murder, so long as the intent to kill is still present.
Changing the degree does not alleviate the charge of murder. But if your defence lawyer can move your first-degree murder charge to second-degree, or any degree to manslaughter, that will benefit you.
The key difference between murder and manslaughter is intent. If, for example, someone died in a car accident, that would probably fall under (vehicular) manslaughter, not murder. Acts of negligence are also considered manslaughter, not murder.
If your crime could be considered manslaughter, not murder, your sentence could be probation instead of prison. Having a good defence attorney is one of the best ways to make your sentence as light as possible!
4: Mental Illness
Finally, Canadian law does make adjustments for mental illness. For example, if the accused was hallucinating, and thus not fully aware of what they were doing, they could get a lighter sentence (and therapy) using the “insanity defence.” Use of this varies on a case-by-case basis.
You should contact a lawyer as soon as you are charged with murder. A good defence lawyer can soften your charge of murder, if not eliminate it. This may require nuanced knowledge of Canadian law and your specific case. If you have been accused of murder and need help, contact your local defence attorney today!