Attempted homicide — more commonly known as attempted murder — is a first-degree felony offense under Pennsylvania law that could expose you to significant criminal liability, with penalties that could include up to 20 years imprisonment. The severity of the crime may come as a surprise to those who mistakenly believe that the victim’s survival somehow downgrades their conduct to a minor offense. In truth, the attempt itself is enough for significant criminal liability to attach.
Elements of Attempted Homicide in Pennsylvania
According to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in Com v. Anderson, attempted murder is defined by reading the attempt statute in conjunction with the murder statute. Simply put, attempted murder occurs when the defendant:
- takes a substantial step
- towards an intentional killing.
Each of these elements is a necessary condition for the prosecution to find that you have committed attempted murder. If they cannot show one or the other — or both — then criminal liability will not attach.
Sentencing for Attempted Homicide
In Pennsylvania, first degree felonies — such as attempted murder — carry penalties of up to 20 years imprisonment and fines of up to $25,000.
It should be noted that there is no mandatory minimum sentence for attempted murder in Pennsylvania. Still, certain factors will heighten the gravity of the offense and increase the penalties. If you used a deadly weapon in the commission of your attempted murder offense, for example, or if you caused serious bodily harm to the victim during your attempt, then the court may choose to enhance your sentence.
Common Defenses in Attempted Homicide Cases
There are a number of defenses to attempted murder, though two common arguments are worth highlighting for now.
No Substantial Step Was Taken
You may be able to avoid criminal liability if you can show that you did not actually take a substantial step towards committing murder. Mere planning is not enough to find that a substantial step was taken. For example, if you purchase a gun and tell a friend that you intend to kill your neighbor, that would not be enough for attempted murder liability. The prosecution would have to show that you took an additional step, such as confronting your neighbor or firing the gun in their direction.
No Intention to Kill
If you had no intention to kill, then you cannot be held liable for attempted murder. Many attempted murder cases are in fact muddled fight situations where there is no intent to cause death. For example, if you punch someone in the face for insulting you, that would not necessarily reveal an intent to kill, unless the prosecution could introduce evidence that clearly indicated your intent to cause the victim’s death (with the punch).
Contact an Experienced Pittsburgh Attempted Homicide Defense Lawyer for a Free and Confidential Consultation
If you have been charged with attempted homicide, then you may be feeling somewhat overwhelmed by the prospect of your impending prosecution. Attempted homicide carries severe and life-changing penalties. As such, it’s important that you do everything you can to put forth a winning defense.
Here at McKinney Law, our attorneys have years of experience battling with prosecutors on behalf of those who have been charged with violent crimes, such as attempted murder. We are deeply committed to the passionate and comprehensive defense of our clients. Though we are willing and able to negotiate favorable plea deals when the situation calls for it, we are more than capable of taking a case to trial to attempt to secure a winning result in litigation.
Unlike many other criminal defense lawyers, we believe that effective representation demands close engagement with the client. In line with this commitment, we make ourselves available to answer questions or concerns as they arise. Within 24 hours, you will receive a response. We also offer after-hours scheduling so your charge does not have to further interfere with your job and day-to-day life.
Interested in learning more about your attempt homicide case?
Contact us today to arrange a free and confidential consultation with an experienced Pittsburgh attempted homicide defense lawyer at McKinney Law. We will discuss your case and help you determine the most effective next steps for you to take.
Call (412) 520-3301 or submit your information online.