Murder charges are among some of the most severe criminal charges a person can face. Depending on the circumstances, a person accused of violent crime such as murder can face life imprisonment or even the death penalty if convicted in an Alabama Courtroom. As such, it is crucial that accused defendants retain the services of a criminal defense attorney to protect their future and livelihood. A trusted defense lawyer can review the facts surrounding an accused person’s case and craft a defense strategy that minimizes their chances of conviction.
Generally speaking, criminal defenses for murder are broken up into two different categories: claims which assert the defendant did not commit the killing in question, and claims which admit the defendant committed the killing – but did so in a manner that does not constitute murder. Defenses which affirm a defendant committed a homicide can be used either as a means of justifying a killing or as a means of advocating for a reduction of the defendant’s charges to a less-serious second degree murder or manslaughter charge.
Common defenses to murder include:
- Airtight alibis: Criminal defendants accused of murder may be able to secure an acquittal if they are able to prove that they were in a different location at the time of the killing, known as an alibi.
- Mistaken identity: It may be possible that the criminal defendant was mistaken for the real killer. This type of criminal defense often involves the use of an alibi or challenging evidence which places the defendant at the scene of the crime.
- Self-defense: Defendants who argue self-defense must be able to show that the killing was committed using a justifiable use of force to resist bodily harm or a reasonable fear of harm. This defense is not valid in scenarios where the defendant instigated the situation. Similarly, the use of force must be immediate and proportional to the threat.
- Defense of others: Like self-defense strategies, a defendant can also assert that the killing was committed as a means of protecting others from harm. The same requirements of self-defense apply to this strategy.
- Exercise of duty: Law enforcement officials who commit killings in the line of duty without criminal intent or negligence cannot be charged with murder in the State of Alabama. These types of homicides are often considered justifiable.
- Accident: Killings committed by accident stemming from lawful activities are not considered to be murder. This strategy is often used to secure a charge reduction to manslaughter.
- Lack of premeditation: In many states, killings must involve “malice aforethought” or an intent to kill or harm in order to be considered murder. If it can be proven that a killing was committed in the heat of the moment or occurred due to the defendant’s reckless or careless actions, they may be able to secure a reduction of their criminal charges from first degree murder to second degree murder or voluntary manslaughter.
If you or a loved one have recently been charged with murder or a related violent crime – your chances of securing a favorable outcome are likely only as good as the defense attorney you have by your side. Our criminal defense team has helped thousands of clients defend charges similar to yours. Schedule a free consultation with an attorney from our team today by calling (256) 539-4464 or completing an online case evaluation form.