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Homicide crimes are defined based upon the severity of the offense and range from 1st Degree Premeditated Murder to Involuntary Manslaughter. Any homicide charge is serious and requires an attorney who pays attention to detail and understands the appropriate investigative methods that will give you best chance to be acquitted of a homicide crime. A private investigator is advisable to interview all witnesses and gather evidence to defend against a homicide charge. Juries tend to hold the State to its burden of beyond a reasonable doubt more in homicide cases than in other trials because they understand the severity of the offense and they tend to scrutinize the evidence more. It is essential to obtain an attorney who understands the nature of the evidence that the prosecution will use to advance their case and how to rebut the evidence and hold the prosecutor to the reasonable doubt stand. Homicide cases use forensic evidence and it is beneficial to have an attorney who understands how to undermine the credibility of their evidence through appropriate expert testimony.

Michigan First Degree Premeditated Murder

First Degree Premeditated Murder is the most serious charge and the easiest to explain as it is the crime most individuals associate with homicide cases. First degree murder requires the prosecutor to prove the accused planned to kill the victim. The plan does not have to be well thought out and the prosecution can establish premeditation if they can prove the defendant decided, even in a matter of seconds, that they intended their actions to lead to the death of another. Further, the prosecution can use circumstantial evidence to establish premeditation such as the manner a person was killed and any potential Motive of the Accused. While the prosecutor is not required to prove an accused had a Motive it is often essential for the prosecutor satisfy its burden of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. A First Degree Murder Conviction will result in a life sentence without any possibility of parole.

Michigan First Degree Felony Murder

Felony Murder is any death that takes place during the commission of certain felonies and does not require that the accused intended on killing the victim. The intent element is derived from the intent to commit the underlying felony and the actor is held responsible if death was a foreseeable consequence of committing the underlying felony. The underlying felonies that generally lead to Felony Murder Charges are Arson, Criminal Sexual Conduct, Robbery, Carjacking, Home Invasion, Larceny, Extortion, Kidnapping, and Child Abuse. A First Degree Murder Conviction will result in a life sentence without any possibility of parole.

Michigan Second Degree Murder

Second Degree Murder is punishable by life in prison but if a person is given the maximum sentence they will be eligible for parole after twenty five (25) years. A prosecutor will have to establish the accused acted with malice, or their actions created a very high risk of death or great bodily harm with the knowledge that death or great bodily harm would be the probable result of their actions. Second Degree Murder is often used in assaultive cases where death occurs. Second Degree Murder is also used in cases where a drunk driver causes the death of another and is mostly used when the individual had prior drunk driving convictions or a very high blood alcohol content.

Michigan Voluntary Manslaughter Charge

Manslaughter is punishable by up to fifteen (15) years in prison and is often described as “heat of passion” it is a killing that is without malice or premeditation that is used in a situation where a spouse walks in on their spouse having an affair and causes a death because of their extreme emotional state. A Murder charge can also be mitigated to Voluntary Manslaughter if Imperfect self-defense is not refuted by the prosecutor beyond a reasonable doubt. Where imperfect self-defense is applicable, it serves as a method of negating the element of malice in a murder charge. The doctrine applies only where the defendant would have been entitled to self-defense had he not been the initial aggressor.

Michigan Involuntary Manslaughter Charge

Involuntary Manslaughter is punishable by fifteen (15) years in prison. The prosecutor must prove that a death occurred, the accused did not have malice and the death occurred unintentionally, but took place while the accused was committing an unlawful act that was not a felony or naturally tending to cause death or great bodily harm or the accused was negligent in doing a lawful act or omitting to perform a legal duty.

Michigan “Drunk Driving Causing Death”

Known in Michigan as Operating While Intoxicated Causing Death this offense is punishable by up to fifteen 15 years in prison. The prosecutor is required to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a driver voluntarily decided to drive when they knew or should have known that they may have been impaired by the use of alcohol or drugs. Further, the prosecutor will be required to show that but for an accused operation of their vehicle the victim would not have died and that the operation of the vehicle was a proximate cause of the victims death or the operation was a natural and direct cause of death. It is advisable to use an accident reconstruction expert to collect evidence on the cause of the accident. The expert will examine the vehicles, tire marks, road conditions and interview witnesses. If the expert concludes that your actions were not the cause of the accident such as when a deceased ran a red light or stop sign and crashed into the accused it will be very compelling evidence for a jury.

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