New York Murder/Homicide/Manslaughter Attorney
Homicide charges like murder and manslaughter are among the most serious criminal charges any defendant can ever have to face. If you or someone you love has been arrested for a homicide crime, it is absolutely critical to seek immediate help from a skilled and knowledgeable attorney.
At the law offices of Sullivan & Galleshaw, our criminal defense lawyers have over 30 years of experience fighting even highly complex felony charges. We are committed to providing aggressive yet compassionate legal representation for residents of the New York City metropolitan area, and offer no-obligation free consultations for new clients.
To start discussing your legal matter in a free and private case evaluation, call the New York homicide defense lawyers of Sullivan & Galleshaw at (800) 730-0135 today.
Criminally Negligent Homicide
While all homicide charges can have very negative consequences and need to be addressed immediately, some offenses are categorized and sentenced less harshly than others. The common misconception that homicide automatically means murder is simply not true, as murder is only one type of homicide charge under New York’s penal code.
With the exception of certain abortion-related offenses, criminally negligent homicide is the least harshly penalized homicide crime under New York’s laws. Under NY Penal Law §125.10, criminally negligent homicide as a Class E Non-Violent Felony.
This crime is charged when a defendant causes another person’s death through “criminal negligence,” which means “fail[ure] to perceive a substantial and unjustifiable risk.” In other words, the defendant was careless and failed to foresee the consequences of his or her actions, but did not intentionally kill the victim.
The offense can be raised to aggravated criminally negligent homicide (§125.11) if the victim was a peace officer or police officer, and the defendant knew or should have known this fact.
Manslaughter and Aggravated Manslaughter
Many people use the terms “murder” and “manslaughter” interchangeably, but they actually have very different legal definitions. Manslaughter is broken down into two categories, and may be charged as aggravated manslaughter depending on the circumstances.
- Second Degree Manslaughter
- Statute – §125.15
- Grading – Class C Non-Violent Felony
- Definition – Charged when the defendant either (1) recklessly causes death, (2) assists in an unlawful abortion which results in the death of the female, (3) intentionally causes sometime to commit suicide, or (4) helps somebody commit suicide.
- First Degree Manslaughter
- Statute – §125.20
- Grading – Class B Violent Felony
- Definition – Charged when the defendant either (1) causes the death of one person while trying to seriously injure a different person, (2) intentionally causes death while under “extreme emotional disturbance,” (3) assists in an unlawful abortion which results in the death of a female more than 24 weeks pregnant, or (4) is at least 18 years old and recklessly causes the death of someone under 11 years old.
- Second Degree Aggravated Manslaughter
- Statute – §125.21
- Grading – Class C Violent Felony
- Definition – This offense is defined identically to aggravated criminally negligent homicide, with the key difference that the defendant was reckless rather than negligent.
- First Degree Aggravated Manslaughter
- Statute – §125.22
- Grading – Class B Violent Felony
- Definition – Charged when the defendant (1) recklessly kills a peace or police officer while intentionally trying to injure him or her, or (2) causes a peace or police officer’s death while under “extreme emotional disturbance.”
While negligence refers to careless lack of foresight, recklessness means that the person was aware of a risk and chose to ignore it.
Vehicular manslaughter involves operating a motor vehicle – including ATVs and snowmobiles – while DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) by drugs and/or alcohol.
Murder and Aggravated Murder
Criminally negligent homicide involves negligence, and manslaughter generally involves recklessness. By contrast, murder and aggravated murder involve the deliberate intent to cause death, such as planning to kill a victim in advance. However, murder may also be charged if the defendant acted recklessly while displaying “depraved indifference to human life,” or if the defendant kills a victim in the course of committing another crime, such as robbery, rape, or burglary.
Aggravated murder or first degree murder can be charged if the defendant knew, or should have reasonably known, that the victim was a(n):
- Ambulance Driver
- Corrections Officer
- Court Officer
- Parole Officer
- Police Officer
- Probation Officer
First degree or aggravated murder can also be charged if the defendant allegedly tortured the victim.
Criminal Penalties and Affirmative Defenses
The criminal penalties for homicide convictions are extremely harsh:
- Class E Felony – Up to 4 years
- Class D Felony – Up to 7 years
- Class C Felony – Up to 15 years
- Class B Felony – Up to 25 years
- Class A Felony – Up to life in prison
All felony convictions, excluding drug-related felonies, are subject to the same maximum fine:
- $5,000 in restitution.
- Double the money earned through committing the crime.
The judge will impose the higher of the two fines.
While the consequences are severe, New York law also recognizes several affirmative defenses to murder charges. Your attorney may be able to successfully argue that you were acting “under the influence of [reasonably justified] extreme emotional disturbance.” Extreme emotional disturbance is a mitigating factor, or a factor which works in the defendant’s favor, and can reduce murder charges to manslaughter charges.
If the alleged murder was committed during the course of another crime, it may be possible to argue that you (1) did not aid or solicit the murder, (2) were unarmed, (3) had no reason to believe the other participants were armed, and (4) had no reason to believe the other participants would act in a way likely to cause death or serious injury.
To set up a free and confidential legal consultation with our homicide defense attorneys, call Sullivan & Galleshaw at (800) 730-0135 today.