A murder offense is one of the most serious charges in the state and could result in decades of imprisonment, life sentences, or even the death penalty. Homicide charges can be defended in various ways, and an accomplished criminal defense attorney could help you avoid the most severe punishments. A qualified Irmo murder lawyer could help you with your case and protect your legal rights.

What is a Homicide Charge?

Murder is defined by South Carolina Code § 16-3-10 as any time a person kills someone else with “malice aforethought.” This phrase is an essential element of a murder accusation because other lesser offenses do not include it. Cases of negligence or accidental death are not included in a homicide charge because of the specific addition of malice aforethought in its definition.

Malice Aforethought & Mental State

State law utilizes malice aforethought to define the mental state the defendant had at the time of causing someone’s death. If a prosecutor fails to prove that the defendant premeditated hostility against the decedent, the charges may be acquitted. Several different mental states may qualify as malice aforethought, including:

  • Specific intent to kill a person
  • Intent to commit a felony
  • Intent to cause grievous bodily injury
  • Reckless indifference to life
  • A preconceived plan to kill a person

Intent is critical to cases like this and prosecutors may focus on it more than other aspects of the alleged crime. A determined murder attorney in Irmo could help create a combative strategy to challenge the prosecutor’s allegations.

Penalties for a Murder Conviction

A defendant convicted of a murder charge may face several different punishments. A judge is required to impose one of the following three punishments for a murder conviction: thirty years to life in prison, life in prison without the possibility of parole, or the death penalty.

A judge will consider various factors when making the decision of how to sentence the defendant. A proactive Irmo murder attorney could lessen or eliminate the penalties for a conviction and ensure the accused person is being represented fairly.

Aggravating Factors

Aggravating factors can enhance the likelihood of serious penalties when a person commits a murder in certain circumstances. This could include if a homicide occurs during another serious crime like criminal sexual conduct, kidnapping, robbery, et cetera.

Another aggravating factor could be if there is a prior conviction for homicide. The previous conviction may be viable even if the murder was for hire, of a child, or was part of a conspiracy to commit homicide. An Irmo murder defense attorney could help weave through the complexities of a case and ensure that the defendant understands the allegations and options presented to them.

Consult an Irmo Murder Attorney Today

Due to the severity of a homicide charge, it is essential to defend your case. These types of cases can not only be complicated, but the prosecutor may be overzealous to get a severe conviction. This is why it could be critical to have a highly experienced attorney by your side.

Let an Irmo murder lawyer protect your constitutional rights and inform you on the available choices for your case. Contact our office today for a confidential consultation to learn about your legal options.