At the Law Office of Nicolai Cocis, we are dedicated to defending the rights, reputation, and freedom of those accused of criminal activity. Allegations of murder and manslaughter come with extremely heavy penalties that can destroy the life of the accused. Our aim is to provide our clients with a platform to tell their story, to ensure that their rights are protected throughout the proceedings, and to tirelessly fight for a positive outcome of their case.
The key difference between murder and manslaughter is the state of mind of the accused. If an intent to cause serious harm or death or a reckless disregard for human life existed, than the crime can be charged as murder. In legal terms, this intent is known as "malice aforethought." If a death was caused by an individual without malice aforethought, then he or she may be charged with manslaughter.
First- vs. Second-Degree Murder
Murder charges can be classified as either first- or second-degree. A first-degree murder is best characterized by the premeditation of the accused, in that it is determined that he or she set out to kill the alleged victim.
Second-degree murder does require malice and is considered willful, however it is mostly characterized by a homicide that resulted from the involvement of the accused in a dangerous felony crime. Since malice is the key characteristic of a murder charge, one of the most effective defensive strategies is challenging the existence of intent by arguing that the death was the result of self-defense or an accident.
- Elements of a first-degree murder include:
- Using destructive explosives, ammunition, poison, or weapons of mass destruction
- Inflicting torture
- Killing in a manner that is premeditated and deliberate
- Lying in wait for an individual with the intent to kill
Additionally, there are certain felonies in which a resulting homicide may automatically be considered a first-degree murder regardless of whether or not these factors existed. If one of these elements does not exist, you cannot be charged with first-degree murder.
Voluntary vs. Involuntary Manslaughter
Much like degrees of murder, manslaughter charges can be further broken down into categories of voluntary and involuntary. Involuntary manslaughter is defined as an unintentional homicide that resulted from negligent or reckless actions or non-felonious criminal activity.
Voluntary manslaughter is often referred to as a "crime of passion," as it is defined by a homicide that is provoked and results from emotional passion in the heat of the moment. In these cases, the emotional and reactive nature of the accused's motive lessens the moral liability when compared with murder.
Get the Effective Defense You Need
Whether you have been charged with murder or manslaughter, our team of Temecula criminal defense attorneys have the experience and confidence that you need to fight for your freedom. With so much at stake, it is essential to contact a lawyer as soon as possible so that we can begin investigating and analyzing your case for evidence, witness testimony, and other information that can help us build an effective defense.
Our law office is located near the Southwest Justice Center in Murrieta and we represent individuals from the Riverside County cities of Temecula, Wildomar, Menifee, Murrieta, Lake Elsinore, Perris, Hemet, Banning, Corona and Riverside.
Request a free case evaluation with a member of our team immediately.
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