Maryland Homicide Defense Lawyer
Accused of Murder or Manslaughter in Maryland?
If you or a loved one are facing charges related to homicide, you need a skilled and dedicated legal team by your side. At Albers & Associates, we recognize the gravity of homicide charges and the life-altering consequences they entail.
Our team is equipped with the knowledge, expertise, and unwavering dedication to navigate the intricate legal landscape surrounding homicide cases in Maryland. We are committed to safeguarding your rights, building a robust defense strategy, and working tirelessly to achieve the best possible outcome for your case.
Maryland Homicide Laws
In Maryland, homicide refers to the unlawful killing of one person by another person. It is a serious criminal offense that can result in severe legal consequences, including imprisonment. Maryland, like most jurisdictions, categorizes homicide into different degrees based on the circumstances and intent surrounding the killing.
Here are the main types of homicide charges in Maryland:
- First-Degree Murder: First-degree murder is the most serious homicide charge and typically involves intentional and premeditated killing. It also includes felony murder, where a death occurs during the commission of certain felonies, even if the death was not intended. First-degree murder carries the possibility of the death penalty or life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.
- Second-Degree Murder: Second-degree murder involves intentional killing but without the premeditation and deliberation required for first-degree murder. It can also include "depraved heart" murder, where a person's reckless behavior leads to another person's death. Second-degree murder carries maximum prison sentence of 30 years.
- Manslaughter: Manslaughter is a less severe form of homicide and often involves killing without the intent to cause death. In Maryland, manslaughter is further divided into two categories:
- Voluntary Manslaughter: This occurs when a person kills another in the heat of the moment, usually due to a sudden provocation or strong emotion. A conviction is punishable by imprisonment for up to 10 years.
- Involuntary Manslaughter: Involuntary manslaughter occurs when a person unintentionally causes another person's death due to reckless or negligent behavior. It doesn't involve the intent to kill. A conviction carries a maximum prison term of 2 years and/or a fine of up to $500.
- Vehicular Manslaughter: This is a specific form of manslaughter that involves causing someone's death due to reckless or negligent driving. It is often charged when a death results from a car accident caused by a driver's dangerous behavior, such as drunk driving or excessive speeding. A felony offense is punishable by imprisonment for up to 10 years and/or a maximum fine of $5,000, while a misdemeanor offense carries a prison sentence of up to 3 years and/or a fine not exceeding $5,000.
Common Legal Defenses for Homicide Charges
Legal defenses for homicide charges can vary depending on the circumstances of the case and the jurisdiction's laws.
The following are some common legal defenses that may be used in homicide cases:
- Self-Defense: This defense argues that the defendant killed another person in order to protect themselves from an imminent threat of serious bodily harm or death. In self-defense cases, the defendant must show that they reasonably believed that using lethal force was necessary to protect themselves.
- Defense of Others: Similar to self-defense, this defense asserts that the defendant killed someone to protect another person from an imminent threat of harm or death. The key is that the defendant's belief in the necessity of using lethal force was reasonable.
- Accident: This defense contends that the death was a tragic accident and not the result of any intentional or reckless actions by the defendant. The defendant must demonstrate that they didn't intend to cause harm or death.
- Insanity: Insanity defenses argue that the defendant was not mentally capable of understanding the nature and wrongfulness of their actions at the time of the killing. Successful use of this defense can result in a verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity.
- Diminished Capacity: This defense asserts that the defendant's mental state was impaired to a degree that they lacked the capacity to form the necessary intent for murder or a specific degree of homicide. It doesn't result in a complete acquittal but may lead to a conviction for a lesser offense.
- Heat of Passion: This defense is often used in cases of voluntary manslaughter. It argues that the defendant was so emotionally overwhelmed (in the "heat of passion") that they didn't have time to cool off and their judgment was impaired when they committed the act.
- Alibi: An alibi defense asserts that the defendant was not present at the scene of the crime when the homicide occurred and therefore couldn't have committed the act.
- Lack of Evidence: If the prosecution's evidence is weak or insufficient to prove the defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, the defense may argue that there is not enough evidence to support a conviction.
- Misidentification: If the prosecution's case relies heavily on eyewitness identification, the defense may challenge the reliability of those identifications, suggesting that witnesses may have mistaken the defendant for someone else.
- Necessity: The necessity defense claims that the defendant committed the homicide to prevent a greater harm from occurring. This defense is less commonly used in homicide cases but can be applicable in certain circumstances.
Our Maryland defense lawyers take the time to understand your situation, thoroughly investigate the evidence, and craft a defense strategy tailored to your specific circumstances. This personalized approach allows us to present a compelling case in your favor.
If you or a loved one is facing homicide charges, don't hesitate to contact us for a consultation. Our attorneys will provide you with the legal guidance and support you need during this challenging time.