Murder: Know Your Felonies Part 1
A criminal defense attorney’s practical approach to murder defense
When an innocent person is killed, someone must pay the price. In Ohio, criminal defense attorneys step up to the plate for the accused.
These lawyers, assisted by their own investigators and experts, review all the state’s evidence, such as police reports, witness statements, lab reports and physical evidence, including DNA and firearms. They investigate whether the arrest was legal, whether the witnesses have motives to lie and whether the evidence was securely preserved.
Charges can be either aggravated murder, murder, vehicular manslaughter or reckless homicide, and voluntary or involuntary manslaughter. In Ohio, the defendant’s intent, or lack thereof, often determines the severity of his or her punishment.
Aggravated murder, often referred to as first-degree murder, is considered the most serious offense. To be convicted of this crime, one of the following must apply:
- The death was planned ahead of time.
- Certain other felonies were being committed, such as kidnaping, rape, robbery, burglary or terrorism.
- The victim was 13 years old or younger.
- The offender was under detention or breaking detention.
The punishment for aggravated murder can be life imprisonment or even the death penalty.
A charge for murder applies to a death purposely caused by a defendant, the unlawful termination of another’s pregnancy or as the direct result of the defendant committing an act of violence. Under Ohio law, murder applies to intentional homicide without the aggravating factors listed above. The penalty for murder is imprisonment for 15 years to life. The prison sentence can be increased to 30 years to life if the offender is determined to be a sexual predator.
Voluntary or involuntary manslaughter
Manslaughter is considered a lesser offense than murder because it is done neither with the planned intent to kill nor in the course of committing another violent crime. It’s defined in Ohio law as a death caused by a sudden passion, fit of rage, by the victim’s provocation or unnecessary self-defense. Voluntary manslaughter is still a first-degree felony, punishable by up to 11 years in prison or more depending on the circumstances of the case.
On the other hand, involuntary manslaughter is considered the death of another person or the unlawful termination of another’s pregnancy as the direct result of the defendant’s attempt to commit a felony, misdemeanor or other regulatory offense. A conviction of involuntary manslaughter can be either a first- or third-degree felony.
Vehicular manslaughter or reckless homicide
Causing someone’s death while operating a vehicle in a reckless or negligent manner, or while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, can be charged with vehicular manslaughter. Ohio law applies the same standard to motorcycles, snowmobiles, trains, watercraft and aircraft as it does to cars. Vehicular manslaughter is punishable as either a first- or second-degree felony.
Under Ohio law, you commit reckless homicide if you engage in reckless behavior that results in another person’s death. Ohio also punishes someone who recklessly caused the death of another or the unlawful termination of another’s pregnancy as a third-degree felony, with a potential prison sentence of one to five years.
Find a skilled Ohio criminal defense attorney for your murder defense
The expertise of an seasoned lawyer can mean the difference between being charged with a felony or a misdemeanor. If you are charged with murder, it is crucial to contact the experienced Ohio criminal defense attorneys at Yavitch & Palmer Co., LPA.
Learn more about how Stephen Palmer can help you today.