Being accused of a misdemeanor offense is one thing, but being dealt criminal charges based on an alleged violent crime is something else altogether. Although a conviction for a misdemeanor offense can have significant consequences, they pale in comparison to the penalties associated with a criminal homicide conviction. Those convictions that fall into the latter category can include significant prison sentences or even the death penalty. Therefore, those who have been accused of a violent crime need to be prepared to aggressively defend themselves.

The first step in this process is to understand the legal elements that a prosecutor must prove before a conviction can be obtained. Let’s look at first-degree murder as an example. In order to prove first-degree murder, a prosecutor must show that the killing was intentional. Under Pennsylvania law, this means that evidence must be presented demonstrating that the killing occurred by poisoning or after the accused individual was lying in wait. Any other willful, deliberate, and premeditated killing will also constitute murder in the first degree.

Meeting this burden of proof should be difficult. After all, it requires a prosecutor to prove a defendant’s state of mind. This usually requires the prosecution to string together statements and actions that it believes adds up to willful, premeditated action. This leaves many doors open for a criminal defense to exploit.

A criminal homicide defense must be legally strong and aggressive. Only those who know the law, the rules of evidence, and trial procedure are best positioned to develop these kinds of legal strategies. Given that the penalties associated with these cases are so severe, individuals who have been accused of them owe it to themselves to ensure they have the best legal representation possible under the circumstances.