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Aggressive Missouri Attorneys with 48 Years of Experience Taking a Team Approach
Homicide covers all crimes related to killing, including murder and manslaughter at varying degrees. Our St. Louis law firm has significant experience in serious cases like murder, so you can trust that we know how to strategize your legal steps. Additionally, we will put all four of our defense lawyers on your case so that you have a strong team examining every different angle and perspective of your case to better prepare for trial. Our main goal going into your case will be to champion for a dismissal or “not guilty” verdict, and we will not shy away from litigation.
Your reputation and rights are personal to us; schedule a free initial consultation online or at (314) 413-2053 to discuss your legal options with our homicide attorneys in St. Louis, MO.
Missouri Murder Laws
Crimes of murder in Missouri are charged either as first degree murder or second degree murder. First degree murder is the most serious homicide crime in the state and occurs when a person knowingly causes the death of another person after thinking about doing so (premeditating). Note that to prove first degree murder, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant intentionally and deliberately killed a person without lawful justification. First degree murder is punishable by the death penalty or life imprisonment without possibility of parole.
If premeditation is not present, the defendant will likely be charged with second degree murder. More specifically, the following activity is considered second degree murder:
- knowingly causing the death of another person (without premeditation or deliberation);
- purposely causing serious physical injuries to a person which causes their death;
- committing or attempting to commit any felony and a person is killed during the process of the felony, such as burglary or robbery (known as “felony murder”).
Second degree murder is a Class A felony punishable by 10-30 years or life in prison. In the case of felony murder, the defendant will also face separate criminal charges for the felony itself as well as for the murder that occurred.
Manslaughter offenses are killings that do not involve premeditation and occur in the moment. In particular, Missouri recognizes two categories of manslaughter – voluntary and involuntary. Voluntary manslaughter might be referred to as “heat-of-the-passion” manslaughter and can occur in the following ways:
- causing the death of another under the influence of a sudden passion arising from an adequate provocation;
- knowingly assisting another to commit “self-murder” (assisted suicide).
Voluntary manslaughter is charged as a Class B felony and punishable by 5-15 years in prison and up to $5,000 in fines.
Involuntary manslaughter, also called criminally negligent manslaughter, is when a person accidentally kills another without intending to cause injury or death. There are two degrees of involuntary manslaughter, depending on the circumstances of the offense:
- First degree – recklessly causing the death of another person or criminally negligently causing a person’s death while operating a vehicle or boat in an intoxicated condition
- Second degree – criminally negligently causing the death of another by a means other than intoxicated vehicle or boat operation
First degree involuntary manslaughter is either a Class B or C felony, depending on who died and under what circumstances. A Class B felony issues 5-15 years in prison and a Class C up to 7 years in prison and up to $5,000 in fines. Second degree involuntary manslaughter is a Class D felony punishable by up to 4 years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
Common instances of involuntary manslaughter often involve DWI, especially the more severe ones. Note that if a person has previously been convicted of a DWI involuntary manslaughter that killed 2 or more people; someone who was not a passenger; or while the driver had a 0.18% blood alcohol concentration, then the crime will be charged as a Class A felony punishable by 10-30 years or life in prison.
Defend Against Your St. Louis Homicide Charges Today
If you are facing criminal charges for homicide in St. Louis, whether for murder or manslaughter, contact an experienced defense lawyer to strategize your defense. While being charged may feel overwhelming and hopeless, know that you still have a chance to defend yourself with the help of Miller & Hines. We will listen to the facts of your situation and help you craft a unique defense against your homicide accusations, whether that means claiming innocence, lack of intent, or self-defense, among other defenses.
Schedule a free initial consultation with our St. Louis homicide lawyers online or at (314) 413-2053 to get started.