Maryland Homicide Lawyer
Both considered felonies under Maryland State Law, murder and manslaughter are among the most serious charges that can be filed against someone. With capital punishment or life imprisonment without the possibility of parole both potential consequences for a charge of first degree murder, it’s absolutely crucial that you hire a qualified Maryland homicide attorney immediately after your arrest.
All types of homicide in Maryland are covered in Criminal Code Title 2 under five different subtitles. These subtitles include:
- Subtitle 1 – General Provisions: Definitions of terms used within the Maryland Criminal Code; elimination of the year and a day rule, which made prosecuting suspected murderers difficult after a period of time; and a provision of Maryland State Code covering homicide or manslaughter of a fetus deemed “viable.”
- Subtitle 2 – Murder and Manslaughter: Laws regarding murder and manslaughter, including attempted murders and vehicular manslaughter.
- Subtitle 3 – Murder – Trial and Sentencing: Appeals process for intent to seek the death penalty by the prosecution, first degree murder sentencing, and rules covering sentencing and verdicts.
- Subtitle 4 – Review By Court of Appeals: Contains a single section (2-401) allowing an automatic review of some cases.
- Subtitle 5 – Homicide by Motor Vehicle or Vessel While Impaired: Covers vehicular homicides that take place while the accused is impaired or under the influence.
A good homicide attorney in Maryland can help you plea down serious first degree murder charges, and fully examine evidence for inconsistencies or inaccuracies in the prosecution’s case.
First Degree Murder
Under Maryland Criminal Code § 2-201 first degree murder is defined as a murder that meets one of the following criteria:
- premeditated, willful, or deliberate
- committed by a person who waited for the victim to arrive (lying in wait)
- was by poisoning
In addition, Maryland Criminal Code also considers murders that take place during the commission of another serious crime first degree murders under certain circumstances. For example, a murder that occurs during an arson of a non-dwelling barn or storage house can be considered murder in the first degree. Other crimes include:
- escape from a correctional facility
- sexual offenses
A Maryland homicide attorney can help you understand your charges, which is especially vital when facing any felony murder charges in the state. Even if you don’t consider a murder premeditated due to a lack of planning, the State still could find that you are guilty of first degree murder if your alleged crime meets other criteria.
Attempted First Degree Murder
If a homicide is not successful, the accused can still face charges in Maryland under Criminal Code § 2-205, which outlines the definition of attempted first degree murder. The crime is still a felony like first degree murder, but the prosecution cannot seek the death penalty. The maximum penalty for attempted first degree murder is life imprisonment.
First Degree Murder Sentencing
The State of Maryland is harsh on those convicted of first degree murder under § 2-201, requiring that one of three sentences be handed down by a judge upon conviction. These sentences can be:
- life imprisonment (no possibility of parole)
- life imprisonment
A sentence of death can be handed down pursuant to § 2-202 and Subtitle 3 of Title 2, while life imprisonment without the possibility for parole can be handed down under Subtitle 3 § 2-203 and § 2-304 under Title 2. The death penalty is determined in a separate sentencing immediately following a guilty verdict for first degree murder. In order to seek the death penalty, the prosecution must submit a request to do so 30 days before the trial begins.
Second Degree Murder
Second degree murder, covered under Maryland Criminal Code § 2-204, makes it illegal to commit any murder, even if it was not premeditated, willful, or deliberate. The distinction between second degree murder and manslaughter is in the intent. Therefore, a second degree murder must be intentional. For example, accusations made by the State that a defendant murdered another person in a fit of unplanned rage would likely result in second degree murder charges. It’s important to note that the murder of a police officer can be charged as first degree murder, even if the homicide is not premeditated.
Second degree murder is a felony in Maryland, but is associated with a lighter sentence than first degree murder. Those convicted of this crime face a prison sentence of up to 30 years. A Maryland homicide defense attorney can help you plea down second degree murder charges, or secure a second degree murder conviction when the State sought first degree murder.
Attempted Second Degree Murder
Unlike attempted first degree murder, the potential sentence for attempted second degree murder has the same maximum potential sentence as second degree murder itself. Under § 2-206 in the Maryland Criminal Code, a person convicted of attempted second degree murder faces up to 30 years imprisonment.
Aggravated assault is often confused for attempted second degree murder by the State, which makes it absolutely vital that you seek a qualified Maryland homicide lawyer. A defense lawyer can argue that your alleged crime was not an attempted murder, and was instead assault. While still a felony, the sentence for aggravated assault is often less severe than attempted second degree murder.
According to the State of Maryland, a person can still be convicted of a felony for killing another person, even if there was no malice aforethought in the crime. For example, the improper operation of large machinery that results in the death of a passerby could be considered manslaughter in Maryland. A Maryland homicide lawyer can examine your case for the possibility of manslaughter, even if you’re facing more serious charges like second degree murder.
Under § 2-207(b), the murder of another party found having sexual intercourse with a spouse, or murder of the spouse, does not constitute a manslaughter instead of a murder. This applies even if the defense can establish that the murder was solely provoked by the sudden discovery of spousal adultery.
Under Maryland Criminal Code § 2-207, the sentence for manslaughter in the state of Maryland is imprisonment for not more than 10 years, or a jail term no more than 10 years and/or a $500.00 fine. The penalty for manslaughter varies widely based on the specifics of the crime and your case as presented by a qualified Maryland manslaughter lawyer.