A first-degree homicide charge may be considered the most serious criminal offense, and it carries with it the most severe and harshest penalties. If convicted, a defendant's life and the lives of their loved ones may be forever changed. Defendants facing this serious charge should be aware of the precise defenses that are available for violent cases.
Recently, a Milwaukee man was charged with homicide after an incident inside his apartment. Police say the accused and his girlfriend were in their apartment when another man entered and asked about his aunt who often visited. According to police, there was an argument and the other man slapped the girlfriend's cheek. Police say a fight ensued and ended with the defendant allegedly stabbing the other man to death. The accused now faces a first-degree intentional homicide charge in the death of the other man.
State laws define homicide into different degrees. Generally, states define first degree with three main components: intent, deliberation and premeditation. For the intent element, prosecutors must prove that the defendant had the specific intent in ending the life of another. For the deliberation and premeditation elements, prosecutors must show that there was time in between the defendant's intention to kill and the act of killing.
In a homicide case, a defendant may have defenses, including self-defense or defense for others that apply to their circumstances. Additionally, a homicide charge may be reduced to a lesser charge if the defendant was provoked by the victim.
If convicted of a serious crime like homicide, a person's reputation and opportunities are at stake. Because of this, every defendant deserves the constitutional guarantee of a fair trial. It is important to remember that every person is presumed innocent unless proven guilty.
Source: Journal Sentinel, "53-year-old charged in brutal stabbing homicide," Bruce Vielmetti, Nov. 6, 2012