It goes without saying that any allegations involving the death of someone are as serious as can be and if you are either being investigated for this crime or a loved one is accused of this crime, you need to contact a New York City homicide crime lawyer immediately.
New York Penal Code Article 125 covers the various statutes involving homicide. While most people are aware of the idea of what legally constitutes "murder," many are unaware of how the homicide law actually works in New York. For example, there are many factors that can either aggravate a murder charge or can downgrade it. In addition, there are various unique defenses to murder charges that may be applicable depending on the facts.
There are two main things that separate homicide allegations from any other allegation of criminality. The first is that these allegations are incredibly serious. The second is that often times the best witness to what actually happened is sadly not able to testify.
Our society demands justice when a person is killed. That demand is placed squarely on the shoulders of the police and the prosecution. This demand comes not only from the victim's family, but also from elected officials, and often from the media. To say that these two entities feel the pressure of enacting this justice would be an understatement.
While this demand for justice is both rational and justified, it must be reconciled with the presumption of innocence that is afforded to all people suspected or accused of a crime. To put it in its most basic form, the police department is not interested in vindicating a truly innocent person. They are interested in making an arrest and "closing out" the case. Once a person is arrested, their work is over. If a person finds himself the subject of an accusation of this severity, he needs someone who will represent his interests because whether he is innocent or guilty, the police are concerned with only one thing. And that one thing is the pursuit of what they perceive "justice" to be.
The most common charge associated with homicide in New York is Murder in the Second Degree-subdivision one. By definition a person is guilty of Murder in the Second Degree-subdivision one when he intentionally causes the death of another person. Despite this very basic definition, there are two affirmative defenses to this charge. The most common affirmative defense asserted in this context is that the person was acting under "extreme emotional disturbance" when he committed the homicide. The important thing to note is that the successful assertion of this defense does not mean an acquittal. It simply lowers the charge to Manslaughter in the First Degree. There are other examples of Murder in the Second Degree which which includes situations in which a person was acting with depraved indifference or the killing occurred during the commission of a felony. A person is guilty of either Aggravated Murder or Murder in the First degree when he commits the crime of Murder in the Second Degree and certain aggravating factors exist. An example of an aggravating factor can be a situation where the victim was a police officer. There are also lesser charges associated with homicide such as Criminally Negligent Homicide, etc. The defense of justification (or self-defense), which the prosecution must disprove beyond a reasonable doubt, would lead to an outright acquittal if successfully asserted.
If you, or a loved one, is accused of or is the subject of an investigation into the death of someone, do not hesitate to contact John Buza for a free consultation.