Clearfield, UT Homicide Defense Attorney

Salt Lake criminal defense lawyer

We often hear the word “homicide” in news headlines, TV shows, and movies. Many people assume that homicide and murder are the same thing. In reality, “homicide” covers a wide range of crimes under Utah law that involve the victim’s death, not just murder.

Homicide charges may vary greatly depending on the circumstances surrounding your case. Some homicides involve unintentional killings and accidents. Others involve an intent to kill. Penalties often depend on the nature of the offense and the defendant’s intent. How you defend yourself also depends on the unique factors surrounding your case. You might base your defense on the actions of law enforcement. If they violated your rights, certain pieces of evidence might need to be thrown out. You might instead highlight various weak points in the case against you to raise reasonable doubt in the jurors’ minds. Talk to an attorney about your case and what defense strategies work best.

For a free, private case review with our homicide defense lawyers, call Overson Law, PLLC at (801) 758-2287.

Different Homicide Charges in Clearfield, UT

In the legal field, homicide is like an umbrella term that covers various crimes that involve the killing of another person. Many people immediately think of premeditated murder when they think about homicide, but there are numerous other homicide charges. Our homicide defense attorneys can review your charges and help you develop effective defense tactics based on your unique circumstances. Criminal charges involving homicide may be found under Utah Code § 76-5-201(2).


Murder charges are described under Utah Code § 76-5-203(2). A person may be charged with murder under quite a few circumstances.

First, you may be charged if you intentionally or knowingly cause another person’s death.

Second, you may be charged if you commit a clearly dangerous and deadly act with the intent to harm someone else, and they end up dying. A defendant does not need to intend to cause death, but they must intend to cause serious harm and commit the dangerous act.

Third, murder charges may apply when someone with a depraved indifference to life engages in conduct that creates a severe risk to others and death to the victim.

Fourth, you might face charges if you are involved in some predicate offense and the victim is killed in the course of that predicate offense.

Fifth, defendants may be charged with murder if they recklessly cause the death of a member of law enforcement or the armed services. This often stems from cases involving people violently resisting arrest or the authority of law enforcement.

Finally, murder charges may be assessed if the defendant commits aggravated murder, but the charges are reduced.

Murder is often charged as a first-degree felony punishable by no less than 5 years in prison and a maximum term of life behind bars.

Aggravated Murder

Aggravated murder is a more severe type of murder charge found under Utah Code § 76-5-202(2). This offense is similar to ordinary murder charges, but certain aggravating factors exist that warrant an upgrade in charges and penalties. For example, a person might be charged with aggravated murder if they kill a correctional officer while incarcerated, kill multiple people in one act, kill for monetary gain, or a whole host of other circumstances and scenarios. When aggravated murder charges are on the table in Utah, prosecutors may seek the death penalty.

Child Abuse Homicide

Under Utah Code § 76-5-208(2), child abuse homicide may be charged when a defendant allegedly causes the death of a minor as a result of child abuse. The abuse may be intentional or the result of reckless behavior or negligent care. This is a serious first-degree felony.

Homicide by Assault

Assault alone is a violent crime that comes with its own charges and penalties. If an assault is so severe that it causes death, the defendant may be charged with homicide by assault under Utah Code § 76-5-209(2). This is a third-degree felony.


Manslaughter charges are often assessed in cases involving death that results from reckless yet unintentional behavior. Under Utah Code § 76-5-205(2), recklessly causing another person’s death or intentionally assisting someone commit suicide may lead to manslaughter charges. This is often a second-degree felony.

If you have been charged with murder, you might see your charges reduced to manslaughter. According to Subsection C of the above statute, murder may be reduced to manslaughter in accordance with Utah Code § 76-5-203(4). Under this law, if the trier of fact finds that special mitigation has been proven by a preponderance of the evidence, they may reduce murder charges to manslaughter. Special circumstances are described under Utah Code § 76-5-205.5(2). They may include circumstances where the defendant mistakenly believed their actions were justified due to a mental health condition or was acting under extreme emotional distress or provocation.

Negligent Homicide

Another form of unintentional homicide is negligent homicide. This is similar to manslaughter in that the killing is unintentional. However, under Utah Code § 76-5-206(2), negligent homicide results from negligence rather than recklessness. Negligence involves a somewhat lesser degree of culpability, so charges are usually less serious and often assessed as Class A misdemeanors.

How to Defend Yourself Against Homicide Charges in Clearfield, UT

Numerous defense strategies for homicide cases exist, and you should speak to an attorney about your charges to begin building the most effective defense possible.

Suppressing Illegal Searches and Seizures

When the police investigate crimes, they must follow very rigid protocols and procedures. If the police do something wrong, they might violate the defendant’s rights. For example, suppose the police take you in for custodial interrogation and fail to read you your Miranda rights. In that case, your Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights have been violated, and any incriminating information you gave the police may be suppressed.

Similarly, evidence may be excluded from your trial if seized in violation of your Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable searches and seizures. If there was no search warrant and the police cannot identify a legal exception to the warrant requirement, tell your lawyer immediately.

Challenging the Sufficiency of Evidence

We should also examine the legally admissible evidence. In some cases, there is simply not enough evidence to build a case against you. If prosecutors attempt to bring a case based on very little evidence, we can raise the issue of insufficient evidence with the judge. In some cases, if prosecutors cannot come up with additional evidence, the judge may dismiss the case.

Raising Reasonable Doubts

Remember, prosecutors must meet their burden of proof to secure a conviction. This is the burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt. Even if we cannot have evidence excluded from your trial, we can identify weak spots in the prosecutor’s case and raise doubts in the jurors’ minds. The evidence against you might be strong, but we can inspire the jury to question whether it is strong enough.

Contact Our Clearfield, UT Homicide Defense Lawyers Immediately

For a free, private case review with our homicide defense lawyers, call Overson Law, PLLC at (801) 758-2287.