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Category Archives: Criminal Law

The system of legal rules that define what conduct is classified as Criminal law. Learn how the government may prosecute that commit crimes violation of a law.


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The Bloody Truth: Understanding First Degree Murder

You’ll hear on the news and see on television police procedurals that people charged with various types of homicide. First degree murder is the most serious of the various types of homicide, and often leads to life imprisonment or even the death penalty.

Even though every type of homicide charge is a serious felony offense, there are many ways to defend felony cases. Like all criminal charges, a prosecutor must prove several homicide crime elements “beyond a reasonable doubt” in order to win a conviction.

The different classifications of homicide confuse people. What makes first degree murder worse than second degree or manslaughter? These terms are not interchangeable.

The specific conditions for murder most foul differ by state. First degree murder has specific requirements that prosecutors must meet. Without meeting those requirements, prosecutors must consider a lesser charge.

We’re going to go over all the differences and information in this article, so keep reading.

Various Types of Homicide

Homicide is a crime where one person dies through the unlawful action of another. Homicides come in three different types. Each must meet specific requirements.

Murder: The Willful Action of Another Person

Murder requires the act be the willful action of another person. The goal of the act is to end the life of the victim. This is generally separated into first and second degree murder. There are also some states that break it down into a third degree.

Manslaughter

Manslaughter is a lesser charge where another person causes the death, but the act was not to kill. For example, a person charged with manslaughter may give another person a drug that causes them to overdose. The act resulted in a death, but it was not the intent.

States that have third-degree murder charges are actually manslaughter charges.

Justifiable Homicide

It’s considered justifiable homicide when a person kills someone in self-defense. This is not a criminal act and no charges are filed.

Example: a mugger attempts to harm another person. He is instead killed by the victim. This is a justifiable homicide. The victim protected himself from harm.

What Is First Degree Murder?

For most cases of first degree murder, prosecutors must meet three criteria: intent, deliberation, and premeditation.

Intent of 1st Degree Murder

The goal of the act must be to end the life of the other person. It doesn’t have to be for a specific victim, but that the person who committed the crime wanted this person to die. It could be someone they know, the wrong person, or a random person.

If a gunman fires into a crowd and kills a random person or was looking to kill a friend and got the wrong person, it’s still considered first degree murder.

Intent also applies to anyone who “lies in wait” to kill someone. They are waiting, and intending, to kill the victim.

Deliberation and Premeditation

The second and third criteria go together. They show the person who committed the murder had the conscious intent to kill before the event. It can be an elaborate plan that shows the person spent days, weeks or months planning the event.

If a wife wants her husband killed, then she’ll spend weeks or months finding a person to kill him, raising the money or researching how to do it herself, for example.

It can also be a quick thought with enough time for the person to consider the act wrong and not do it. Even if a person pauses for only a few minutes to consider his actions and kills the person anyway, then it’s still first degree murder.

Let’s say a person is in an argument and in the heat of it pulls out a gun. If he takes a second to reconsider the action, but shoots and kills the other person anyway, then it’s first degree murder. He knew that what he was doing would kill the person and did it anyway.

first degree murder

First Degree Murder

Difference Between First and Second Degree Murder

There is a distinct, but very important, difference between first and second degree murder. The intent must still be there, but not the plan. These are often considered crimes of passion. The person who committed the crime did not plan before committing the crime.

For example: a husband finds his wife in bed with another man, then in a fit of rage kills him. He could be charged with second degree murder. His intent was to kill the man, but there was no planning.

Special Situations of 1st Degree Murder

The requirements for first degree murder can vary from state to state. Many states consider special situations that can also be first degree murder.

For example, some states need first degree murder to have malice. Malice means the person committed the crime on purpose with evil disposition or with indifference to human life.

There are some states that allow for first degree murder without the traditional requirements. These are often special circumstances. These include the child death caused by unreasonable force, death due to a pattern of domestic abuse, or death of a police officer.

Many states allow the felony murder rule. It’s considered a felony if the death occurred along with another crime such as theft, rape, etc.

Punishment for 1st Degree Murder

What is 1st degree murder? It’s the most serious offense in the law books. As such, it carries significant punishment dependent on the state and which type of lawyer or telltale of your lawyer is.

It is eligible for the death penalty and can lead to an execution in some states. The law guarantees a person convicted with the death penalty an appeal.

It is also eligible for life in prison and life in prison without the possibility of parole. States also set requirements on the severity of the crime to receive such harsh punishments. The death penalty may only be eligible if the crime was particularly violent or depraved.

Second degree murder can have a punishment of 20-25 years. This also depends on state law and the circumstances of the crime.

Murder Is a Serious Offense

Television shows can glamorize murder and make it seem almost mundane and most violated rights of the accused. It’s not: it’s the most serious crime.

Punishment is severe and law enforcement investigates it to the fullest extent. If you want to learn more about first degree murder and other laws, then visit this website for choosing the best attorney.

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No More Cash Bond: What You Need to Know About California Bail Reform

Despite decreasing trends in violent and property crimes, there’s still trouble in the neighborhood.

Crime is in every city and town, ranging from trespassing onto private property to carrying illegal substances. It’s an unfortunate yet inevitable part of society that will never go away.

Most of us are concerned about the finding of a criminal but forget the processes that happen after they are found. However, the post-crime processes are all the talk right now in California.

Make sure you keep reading to get all the latest updates on the California bail reform. How many other states are to follow?

Evaluating Risk

California decided to rid the use of cash bail bonds. Trust us, you aren’t the only one asking questions. There is a ton of talk surrounding this issue and plenty of people trying to understand how it’s going to work.

Instead of using cash bonds to get out of jail, the state will now be utilizing evaluations determining an individual’s risk. The risk of fleeing and causing further danger to other people and property will be determined on a person-by-person basis, and this will affect monetary obligations and bail conditions.

No one is exactly sure what specific performance scales, answers, and clues the state will be looking at in this California bail reform to determine risk levels. The uncertainty of the issue is causing quite the stir across the state.

In fact, in some cases, the risk level can be swayed according to local laws and regulations. Many people are asking, “Will these risk levels affect the rights of the accused?”

While some officials are claiming the riddance of cash bail bonds will cause a level playing field among the rich and poor, some are afraid this will result in greater racial issues.

Those who are against the reform are not going down without a fight.

What If?

This whole reform raises a handful of “What If?” questions California may have to answer.

What if the risk evaluation of an individual wasn’t correct and someone who was expected to turn up to court does not? What if arrest warrant rates increase?

What if an individual determined “low risk” simply hasn’t been caught for a handful of crimes in the past? What if they wreak even bigger havoc when released?

It’s a tricky game to play with plenty of controversy surrounding the topic. Many people are saying this removal of the cash bail bond is happening too quickly for comfort.

Catch Up on the California Bail Reform

Cash bails have been around for a long time, allowing those detained to be released prior to their hearing in promise of cash payment or release of property. California is changing up the game in the California bail reform.

Some have issues with all the power that is going to be given to prosecutors when determining whether the criminal is of a low, medium, or high risk. Others are thinking this new process will create a more level playing field across the economic spectrum.

If you have any further questions on processes of law or need help finding a lawyer, get in touch or explore our blog.

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Parole hearing – How it works

The prisoner must have completed the minimum years of confinement as per law before he is eligible for release on parole.

Once the minimum sentence period (ERD) nears, a dossier (parole eligibility report) is prepared. This report includes details of the behavioral changes of an inmate in his prison stay, doctors, psychiatrist’s reports and their other observations on the prisoner.

The parole board is a three-member independent committee under the Ministry Of Justice.

If an inmate is allotted a parole hearing date, the same must be communicated to the victim or his immediate kin via mail or phone. The victim has many ways to voice his/her opinion on his/her tormentor’s parole decision. He / She can submit own opinion on parole prior to the hearing to a designated officer, who summarizes the victim’s verbatim for consideration by the parole board.

At this stage, new facts may emerge which affect the perspective of the parole board. For example, the accused may have been given punishment based on last crime he committed. Other evidence might have been disallowed in this case. However, during the parole hearing, it may become known that the accused had actually been a habitual abuser and not a one-time offender as made out from the last verdict. The attitude of the board is likely to turn negative on this new evidence.

One important aspect is that the parole members pour over many facets of the prisoner, which might not be available or admissible in the court at the verdict time. Close monitoring of the inmate, his behavior for days on end in the prison, his participation in different jail programs, his efforts for freedom in the legal way all come under lenses during the parole board examination.

How can parole be beneficial?

When a person is sent to jail, apart from the victim, innocent members of the accused family also suffer from financial and mental stress. They can be innocent toddlers, children, old-age geriatrics literally left to die after the removal of the person (accused ) from their support system. Without financial, mental support, the children of the accused themselves fall prey to sexual crimes. They may grow up to be criminals themselves. Bringing back the accused member of the family along with work may again tilt the financial and mental support back in the family of accused.

After the jail experience, the value of freedom is magnified to the prisoner. He is much less likely to commit re-crime after this lesson. With gratification for parole, he can even become a contributing member to the society.

The Parole Hearing Process

At first, the inmate interacts with one board member. The board member tries to prod into the psychology of the prisoner and not get swayed by his charm or his apparent normal happy attitude, fit enough for a release.

During the parole, the victim can attend with one support person, but he is not allowed to participate in the hearing process

Most Important – What is considered during this review

The parole hearing places the utmost stress on one question “Is it safe to release the inmate in the community, keeping in mind the grave crime that the prisoner had committed. Have really things changed for the better?”

The parole board goes over all that is documented in the parole dossier; hear what the accused and victims have to say about the parole, new evidence, past incidents, past history of the prisoner. The board listens and reads about the psychiatrist review of the inmate. Detailed, painstaking deliberation of this data helps to arrive at a decision regarding on whether the release of the inmate will raise the potential danger of society or not.

Another painful fact that is considered for parole is whether,on release, the convict will get adequate support to integrate and live in society. If no adequate plans are found to rehabilitee the inmate after his release, then his frustration may force him to re-commit crimes. In such cases where, where no suitable plan can be formulated for a decent life of prisoner after release, he may be asked to stay in jail till suitable resources can be found.

The parole members are under continuous pressure to ensure that their decision to release does not make people lose faith in the judicial process. But, they have to also consider providing the chance for a human reform which is not possible when being fried in jail.

It’s not that denial of parole once ends this facility for the prisoner. In some states, parole reports are sometimes automatically reviewed after a fixed number of years.

After Parole

After parole, the inmate will be under surveillance and report to the parole officer. If not reported within 24 hours of his release from correction home, he will be termed as an absconder.

There are various levels of supervision in parole for various types of crimes committed. For sex offenders, the maximum level of surveillance is maintained.

Conclusion

Parole, in reality,is the second judgment and the process is complex. It does not have a very rigid set of rules like the law court has, and rely much more on the personal perception of the parole board members. With a heavy heart, they have to sometimes deny this truncated right when they are not too sure about the future of the inmate after parole. Being ignorant about the laws can also lead to rejection even when the board member knows that the person in question deserves that chance. So, it’s a non-thankful heavy-hearted decision, which weighs heavily on the board members conscience and can swing anyway after release. However, experienced parole members can sniff out discrepancies in what the prisoner is trying to portray for his release and what he actually thinks in his depths of his criminal mind.

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St. Paul DWI Attorney – Drunk Driving Defenses in Minnesota

When the police pull a person over, they are breathalyzed and charged with a DWI; it seems like an impossible situation to “get out of”.

While, most drivers will not get away with it scott-free; there have been some pretty unbelievable cases of people who were clearly guilty of driving with a high BAC getting the proverbial slap on the wrist. This miracle is usually the result of the driver hiring a top DWI attorney that is knowledgeable about the laws in the specific state and region of arrest.

Leverson Budke Criminal Defense

295 Marie Ave E #240
St. Paul, MN 55118

(651) 829-3572
skbudke@leversonbudke.com
nrleverson@leversonbudke.com

State Specific

The United States are uniform with regards to DWI law in that the legal limit for alcohol in the blood stream while driving is .08. This is approximately 2 standard sized drinks in an hour depending on weight and gender.

Other than that, each state has its own unique set of DWI laws. States like Minnesota have relatively lenient DWI laws. So much so, that a man was arrested in October, 2017 for driving while intoxicated for the 28th time in his life. Worse yet, he had a valid driver’s license. Issues like this have led to a call to action for Minnesota revamping their DWI laws.

Stricter states like New York can and will revoke a license indefinitely after three DWI’s within a certain period of time.

I Got Drunk After I Was Driving

An affirmative defense to a DWI charge is exactly what it sounds like. A Defendant is “affirming” that they were drunk and behind the wheel but they are defending their actions with some kind of reason.

There are only two affirmative defenses to a DWI in Minnesota.

The first affirmative defense is that the alcohol was consumed after driving and before the breathalyzer was given. In this situation, the Defendant is saying, “Yes, I was impaired, but not while I was driving”. The Defendant must prove that they drank enough after driving and within two hours of when they were behind the wheel to cause a high BAC.

An example of a scenario like this may be if a person got into an accident and then went inside and had a few drinks while waiting for the police to arrive (not likely). The police would see that the person is drunk and issue a DWI. If it  can be proven that the suspect was not drunk when they were driving and they got drunk afterward then the suspect may be free of criminal liability.

Prescription Medication

The second affirmative defense in Minnesota is for being under the influence of prescribed medication. This defense is basically saying, “Yes, I was impaired but the doctor gave me these pills”. The inherent problem with this defense is the fact that every bottle of pills that could possibly impair a person comes with a clear warning to not drive or operate heavy machinery while taking.

There are several other defenses and legal maneuvers for DWI charges. Only an attorney could possibly know what laws to use and how to apply them to a specific case.

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St. Paul Criminal Defense Attorney

Being charged with a criminal case can be a horrific experience. Furthermore, representing yourself can be challenging. If you are arrested and set to be charged with a criminal offense, it is advisable to hire a criminal lawyer to represent you. Also, do not talk to the police or the prosecution team as they may use what you say as evidence against you. Normally, criminal charges carry hefty penalties and sentences, including life behind bars. For the best results, It is vital to quickly contact a knowledgeable and reputable lawyer who can handle your case and present your best defense. Not having legal representation when faced with criminal charges is like gambling with your freedom. This article discusses the reasons why you should let legal experts like Leverson Budke, PLLP represent you in a criminal case;

Provide you with legal protection

Sometimes the police and the prosecution team employ underhand tactics like intimidation and coercion to get you to admit to the criminal charges. A good lawyer will be knowledgeable about protecting your civil rights and ensure you receive a fair trial. Additionally, they will be able to tell when there is a violation of the civil rights and sue when necessary.

Leverson Budke Criminal Defense

295 Marie Ave E #240
St. Paul, MN 55118

(651) 829-3572
skbudke@leversonbudke.com
nrleverson@leversonbudke.com

Negotiate for a better deal

An experienced attorney with expertise in criminal cases will be able to successfully negotiate with the prosecuting team and the court. In many instances, they can get your charges dropped or reduced before the commencement of the trial. In case you are indeed guilty and the prosecution proves the case against you, a good lawyer will advise you on the best options and negotiate the best plea deal for you.

Investigations

A good lawyer will possess extensive knowledge of how to thoroughly look into a case. Sometimes pieces of relevant information are overlooked, and they are able to help you gather proof and the relevant information from the witnesses which could be important to your defense.

Help clear your name

Being charged with criminal charges such as murder, drug possession and homicide can affect your reputation. These charges can affect the type of jobs available to you in the future. A good lawyer is able to bail you out and help you continue with your daily routine as the case continues as well as seal your criminal record so future employers can’t see your criminal past.

Knowledge of the criminal system

Most people don’t know the ins and outs of the law, which causes confusion when they are faced with criminal charges. With an attorney’s knowledge of the criminal system, they are able to build a strong case on your behalf and are able to defend you against the criminal charges that are being brought against you. Moreover, they will explain to you the worst and the best case scenarios to avoid building false hope.

Moral and emotional support

When facing criminal charges, you are likely to undergo numerous emotions like stress, anxiety, fear and even humiliation. An experienced attorney will understand the emotional disturbance criminal charges can cause. Therefore, they are able to give advice that eases your mind. Also, the information shared by their client is very confidential and you won’t ever worry about what you say to be disclosed.

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