Depending on the surrounding circumstances, a homicide may be charged as first degree murder, with the possibility of life in prison and no parole. There are many other possible outcomes, which can include having charges dropped because you were acting in self-defense, obtaining an acquittal through trial, or having charges reduced to 2nd degree murder or manslaughter. The outcome depends in large part on the quality of your defense lawyer and his experts. If you are facing murder charges, contact our attorneys today.

First Degree Murder

Any of the three following factors make a homicide eligible for a first degree murder charge:

  • Premeditation - this means there was decision made to kill someone. Premeditation does not mean that there was an intricate plan, only that the accused made a conscious decision after having time to think about.
  • Extreme Atrocity or Cruelty - this means there were factors in the killing which elevated it above a normal homicide, such as torture, or the killing itself was exceptionally brutal
  • Felony Murder - if a homicide occurs during the commission of another serious felony, such as an armed robbery, bank robbery, or rape, it is first degree murder

Second Degree Murder

Second degree murder is basically any murder which fails to meet the standard of first degree murder. It includes a homicide where there was intent to kill or inflict serious bodily harm, without any legal justification, but where there is a lack of premeditation. The maximum penalty for a conviction is still life in prison, but there could be a chance for parole in 15 years.

Voluntary and Involuntary Manslaughter

Voluntary manslaughter is a homicide committed in the heat of passion. It includes the intent to kill, but also includes a provocation which mitigates the circumstances. Involuntary manslaughter is an unintentional killing that results from a wanton or reckless act, or from a battery with intent to harm. The maximum sentence for both is 20 years.


The use of deadly force is justified to protect yourself if you hold a reasonable fear of death or great bodily harm, and no reasonable way to escape. In cases of self-defense it is up to the prosecution to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you did not act in self-defense. If the use deadly force was unreasonable, voluntary manslaughter is a likely outcome.

Contact our Murder Defense Attorneys

The verdict of a murder trial is often determined by which expert witnesses are more convincing to a jury. Our attorneys have contacts with some of the world's premiere forensic experts and physicians, which can be crucial in any case involving DNA, blood, or other biological evidence. He also has the experience and skills needed to plan the correct defense against these most serious of charges. Contact a Boston murder defense lawyer at our law offices today.

Contact a Criminal Defense Lawyer

No charge for initial disussion of your case.

Privacy protected. All information held in the strictest confidence.

In The News

  • National News Websites

    1. CNN

    Americans flock to this site for their daily dose of news. CNN provides news categories, like world news,... read more

  • With hundreds of great criminal justice blogs to choose from on the internet, it can be hard to choose the right... read more

  • Extra! Extra! Read All About It! Legal News Blogs

    1. Law Blog (The Wall Street Journal)

    Current legal events are tracked on... read more

  • Bank robberies are a favorite subject of both printed fiction and movies, but some pretty spectacular thefts have occurred in real... read more

  • 1. Hashish Stash Seized from the Taliban

    The war in Afghanistan and Iraq has created a period of instability that has... read more

    Published: March 20, 2011

    SEATTLE – The German news organization Der Spiegel published photographs Sunday showing two U.S. soldiers posing... read more

    Published: February 11, 2011

    SEATTLE – The cases against four of the Army soldiers accused of killing three unarmed Afghan... read more