Murder in Worcester County is described as the deliberate and unlawful killing of another person done with malice or while committing or attempting to commit a felony. The significant distinction between murder and manslaughter is the element of malice, which is the intent to kill or inflict grievous bodily harm. Although the defendant’s actions must be intentional to sustain a murder charge, the charges may hold, under the transferred intent, if the accused intended to kill someone and accidentally killed someone else.
First-degree murder in Worcester County refers to the unjustified killing of another person committed with any of the following factors:
Before a person can be convicted for first-degree murder, the prosecution must prove that:
Murder with Extreme Atrocity or Cruelty
The applicable rules for proving atrocity and cruelty are the same as murder with intent, except that intent broader in scope, and the prosecution will need to prove that the killing was committed with extreme atrocity or cruelty.
For a felony murder charge, the prosecution must prove,
The requirement of intent is the same as the one applicable to murder with extreme atrocity or cruelty.
First-degree murder is punishable with life imprisonment in state prison. However, an offender may be eligible for parole if the offender committed the act between the ages of 14 and 18.
Second-degree murder occurs when a person kills another with malice or intent to cause significant bodily harm or death without premeditation. These killings happen in the heat of the moment without a prior plan or strategy. Killing an individual while committing an offense that is not punishable with death or life imprisonment may be diminished from first to second-degree murder.
Second-degree murder in Worcester County is punishable by life imprisonment in the state prison. However, offenders are eligible for parole after a term of years fixed by the court but after a minimum of 15 years.
Third-degree murder is not legally recognized as a classification in Worcester County. In some states, however, third-degree murder refers to unintended death caused by the accused, similar to manslaughter in Worcester County.
Manslaughter is an unintentional, mistaken or neglectful act causing death. The distinguishing factor between murder and manslaughter is the intent to kill or cause grievous physical harm. A murder charge may be reduced to manslaughter where the defendant did not possess the requisite intent or where the prosecution is unable to prove the absence of mitigating circumstances. Manslaughter in Worcester County can be voluntary, involuntary, or vehicular.
Motor vehicle manslaughter occurs when an intoxicated person operates a vehicle negligently and recklessly in a public access way, causing the death of another person. This offense can be either a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the facts and circumstances surrounding an incident.
A felony vehicular manslaughter is punishable by a state prison term between 2.5 years and 15 years and a fine not exceeding $5,000. Alternatively, it is punishable with 2.5 years in a house of correction and a maximum fine of $5,000. A misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter, on the other hand, is punishable by imprisonment in a house of correction between 30 days and 2.5 years, a fine between $300 and $3,000, or both such fine and imprisonment. In addition to fines and imprisonment, an offender also faces a 15-year driver’s license loss or a suspension for a lifetime, depending on the offender’s criminal history.
A voluntary manslaughter charge results from the accused killing an individual in the heat of passion or sudden combat. It also applies in cases where the defendant used excessive force during self-defense or defense of another. The heat of passion refers to a certain state of mind like anger, fear, and nervous excitement. Sudden combat on its part involves a sudden assault by the deceased on the defendant. In determining sudden combat, physical contact or even a single blow may amount to reasonable provocation. Voluntary manslaughter is different from murder in that the defendant’s actions were induced by emotional excitement in a situation where another person might also have acted upon impulse.
Voluntary manslaughter committed by individuals in Worcester County is punishable by a maximum term of 20 years imprisonment in the state prison, or fine not exceeding $1,000; or not more than 2.5 years imprisonment in a house of correction. Manslaughter committed by a business organization is punishable with a maximum fine of $250,000; and a debarring of the business organization for ten years.
Involuntary manslaughter is unintentional killing resulting from wanton or reckless behavior or battery. To prosecute under this provision, the battery committed by the defendant must be a lower offense than a felony. The prosecution does not need to prove an intention to kill but an intent to perpetrate the crime that caused the death.
Involuntary manslaughter in Worcester County is punishable for individuals by a maximum of 20 years in the state prison, fine not exceeding $1,000, or not more than 2.5 years imprisonment in a house of correction. When committed by a business organization, it is punishable with a fine not exceeding $250,000; and/or debarment of the business organization for a maximum of 10 years.
A qualified criminal defense attorney has the professional training and experience to help the defendant throughout the criminal proceedings, from arrest to sentencing and very often post-sentencing, appeals, and probation. In defending the accused, the attorney may be able to obtain a dismissal, acquittal, negotiate a lesser charge, and generally help the accused navigate being on trial. Depending on the facts of the case and evidence before the court, the defense attorney’s strategy could include defeating the prosecution’s case on technical grounds, presenting counter-arguments and evidence that cast reasonable doubt, and building a strong, convincing defense.
Motion to suppress evidence: during the trial, the defense attorney may file this motion to exclude evidence obtained by the prosecution or law enforcement in violation of a constitutional provision. The Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution grants suspects the right to stay silent when interrogated by the police. The police are required to read out this warning before attempting to interrogate a suspect. Failure to do so can prevent the admissibility of the findings of such interrogation as evidence. Similarly, evidence procured in the course of an unlawful search or arrest violates the Fourth Amendment of the U.S Constitution and may be inadmissible.
Defense of alibi: This defense is founded on the argument that the defendant was not present at the crime scene and could not have committed the offense. The court will usually dismiss a murder charge if this defense is successful.
Lack of intent may be supported with evidence showing the defendant’s insanity, extreme stress, or an impaired state of mind.
Exercise of Duty: Certain killings by law enforcement and public officers may not amount to murder, particularly where the killing occurred during the exercise of duty and without any unlawful intent, recklessness, or negligence.
Self-defense: self-defense is a justification for killing another. For self-defense to be considered proper, the defendant must have been attacked by the victim or had reasonable grounds to fear imminent physical harm. The defendant must have also used a force that is proportionate to the perceived threat.
Defense of others: just like self-defense, defense of another person is a justifiable ground in certain homicide circumstances. A person is allowed to use a proportionate force to defend another person from imminent bodily harm if there is a reasonable belief that such intervention is justified and that the person being aided could have had a legitimate self-defense claim.
Defense of property: killing an individual to protect one's property is justifiable if the force employed is reasonable.
Prevention of a crime: this defense is applicable where there is substantial evidence that the accused had reasonably intervened to foil a crime. The action should have been the only reasonable means of preventing the crime, and the force used by the defendant was proportionate in the particular circumstance.