Overview of Murder Charges in Kentucky
Under Kentucky laws, criminal homicide is defined as the intentional killing of another person and is categorized into one of four crimes: murder, manslaughter in the first degree, manslaughter in the second degree, or reckless homicide.
Pursuant to Kentucky Revised Statutes § 507.020, a person is guilty of murder when:
- They cause the death of another person intentionally, or with intent to cause the person's death.
- They operate a motor vehicle under circumstances that are extremely indifferent to human life, thereby causing the death of another person.
Murder is considered a capital offense.
Manslaughter in the First Degree
A person is guilty of manslaughter in the first degree when:
- They cause the death of another person with the intent to cause serious bodily harm or injury.
- While acting under the influence of extreme emotional disturbance, they cause the death of another person with the intent to cause the person's death.
- They intentionally abuse another person, thus causing the person's death.
Manslaughter in the first degree is a Class B felony.
Manslaughter in the Second Degree
A person is guilty of manslaughter in the second degree when they wantonly cause the death of another person, including but not limited to circumstances in which:
- They are operating a motor vehicle.
- They leave a child under the age of eight in a vehicle under circumstances which manifest an extreme indifference to human life and is a grave risk to the child and ultimately leads to the child’s death.
- They distribute schedule I or II controlled substances unlawfully where that substance is the cause of death.
Manslaughter in the second degree is a Class C felony.
A person is guilty of reckless homicide when he causes the death of another person with recklessness. Reckless homicide is a Class D felony.
Murder is a capital offense in Kentucky, which is often punishable by death. Kentucky Revised Statute 532.030 states, “When a person is convicted of a capital offense, he shall have his punishment fixed at death, or at a term of imprisonment for life without the benefit of probation or parole, or at a term of imprisonment for life without the benefit of probation or parole until he has served a minimum of twenty-five (25) years of his sentence, or to a sentence of life, or to a term of not less than twenty (20) years nor more than fifty (50) years.”
Possible Defenses for Murder
There are several arguments that defense counsel can make to refute charges of murder or petition for a lesser offense including:
- Accident or misfortune
- Heat of passion
- Resisting any attempt to murder any person, or to commit a felony
- Defense of habitation, property, or person
- Defense of a person in imminent danger
- Committed in an attempt to uphold the law
- Lack of knowledge
How Can a Murder Defense Attorney Help?
Defending your murder charges by yourself can increase your risks of suffering the maximum penalties. If convicted, you could be facing heavy fines and life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. This is why it is important to retain a knowledgeable Kentucky criminal defense attorney immediately to help protect your rights.
At the Law Offices of John Schmidt & Associates, our attorneys have dedicated their careers to providing strong representation to clients in matters of violent crimes, criminal homicide, and murder. Our team will review your case, carry out a comprehensive investigation, and attempt to refute the charges against you with substantial evidence.
As your legal counsel, we will help defend your rights and help you navigate the Kentucky criminal justice system. Our team will strategize an effective defense strategy and fight zealously to have the charges against you dismissed or reduced. We can help you seek fair treatment in your murder case, negotiate a plea bargain, and increase your chances at a brighter tomorrow.