In Pennsylvania, “criminal homicide” is a broad term that encompasses several different offenses. Depending on the circumstances involved, a person accused of criminal homicide could face charges for murder, voluntary manslaughter, involuntary manslaughter or drug delivery resulting in death, and could face anywhere from years in prison to a life sentence – or even capital punishment.
Criminal Homicide Charges and Penalties in Pennsylvania
Under Pennsylvania law, “intentionally, knowingly, recklessly or negligently caus[ing] the death of another human being,” constitutes criminal homicide. Depending upon whether a killing is intentional, knowing or an accident caused by reckless behavior, it can be charged as one of a handful of different offenses:
Murder – A criminal homicide can be charged as murder if it is committed intentionally, with malice or during the commission of another felony offense.
Voluntary Manslaughter – A criminal homicide can be charged as voluntary manslaughter if it is committed as a result of serious provocation or based on an unreasonable belief in a need for the use of deadly force in self-defense.
Involuntary Manslaughter – A criminal homicide can be charged as involuntary manslaughter in the case of a death resulting from reckless or grossly negligent conduct.
Drug Delivery Resulting in Death – The crime of drug delivery resulting in death is defined as intentionally administering, dispensing, prescribing, selling or distributing any controlled substance with use of the controlled substance resulting in death.
Pennsylvania law also recognizes the crime of attempted murder. An individual may be charged with attempted murder in Pennsylvania if he or she is accused of using deadly force, or attempting to use deadly force, with the intent to kill.
The potential penalties in all criminal homicide cases are severe. The least severe criminal homicide charge, involuntary manslaughter, is prosecutable as a first-degree misdemeanor carrying up to five years of incarceration and a $10,000 fine. However, voluntary manslaughter and third-degree murder are both first-degree felonies, and these carry sentences of up to 20 years in prison and $25,000 in fines. First-degree murder, second-degree murder and drug delivery resulting in death are subject to enhanced penalties, with defendants facing anywhere from 40 years in prison to the death penalty (although life imprisonment is a more-likely sentence in most cases).
Defending Against Criminal Homicide Charges in Pennsylvania
If you have been arrested in connection with a criminal homicide, you need to do everything possible to defend yourself. A conviction for criminal homicide will change the rest of your life, and you cannot afford to take chances when your future is on the line. At McKinney Law, our attorneys are known for providing tenacious representation for clients who are facing life-altering consequences, and we have secured “not guilty” verdicts for numerous clients charged with criminal homicide in Pennsylvania.
Speak with a Pittsburgh, PA Criminal Homicide Defense Lawyer for Free
To speak with an attorney at McKinney Law about your criminal homicide case, please contact us to arrange a free and confidential initial consultation. Our attorneys are available 24/7, so call (412) 520-3301 or send us your contact information online now.