The most devastating charges a person can face are those involving murder, regardless of the degree. Suppose you are currently facing murder charges in Pennsylvania. In that case, you must continue reading and contact a seasoned Pottstown criminal defense lawyer from Cohen & Patel to learn more about how this charge is defined, the penalties it may entail, and how our legal team can defend you. Here are some of the questions you may have:

How is Murder Defined in Pennsylvania?

Pennsylvania law categorizes murder into degrees, each reflecting the perpetrator’s intent and circumstances surrounding the crime. First-degree murder, the most severe charge, involves premeditated, intentional killing. Here, the deliberation and willful intent to take a life set apart first-degree murder from less premeditated acts.

Second-degree murder, often linked to felonies, entails a killing that occurs during the commission of another felony, like robbery or kidnapping.

Third-degree murder encompasses other intentional killings not covered by the first two categories, often involving acts with reckless disregard for human life.

What Are the Penalties for Murder in PA?

Pennsylvania imposes stringent penalties for murder. First-degree murder carries the most severe consequences, including the possibility of the death penalty or life imprisonment without parole. Legal statutes, precisely 18 Pa.C.S. § 1102, delineate these penalties.

Second-degree murder also can lead to life imprisonment, reflecting the severe nature of felonies resulting in death.

Third-degree murder sentences vary more widely, with a maximum of 40 years in prison, providing judges with discretion based on the case’s specifics.

That said, even a third-degree murder charge can, obviously, significantly impact a person’s future and freedom, so no murder charge is to be taken lightly.

What Are Some Potential Defenses?

Defending against murder charges in Pennsylvania requires a nuanced understanding of legal defenses and their strategic application. Self-defense is among the most compelling arguments, especially if the accused can demonstrate a reasonable belief in the necessity of lethal force to prevent imminent harm or death.

Although less commonly successful, insanity defenses argue that the accused was incapable of understanding their actions’ wrongfulness or conforming their conduct to the law at the time of the crime.

Lastly, mistaken identity and alibi defenses can prove crucial, especially in cases where circumstantial or flawed evidence links the accused to the crime.

Ultimately, the defense your lawyer uses will depend mainly on the circumstances of your case, which is why it’s paramount to reach out to an attorney as soon as possible. Cohen & Patel stands ready to build an effective defense on your behalf. Contact Cohen & Patel Law today.