Murder is the most serious crime a person can be accused of in Lehi. It is hard to understate the impact a murder charge can have on a person’s life, making your defense crucial.
Murder is a complex charge in Utah since several types exist to cover different situations. The most serious penalties will usually be reserved for murders that were intentionally committed. However, a person could face serious consequences even if they accidentally caused the death of another person.
Call our murder defense lawyers today at Overson Law, PLLC at (801) 758-2287 for a free assessment of your case.
Definitions and Penalties for Murder in Lehi, UT
Most people are aware that murder charges are the most serious a person can face in Lehi and have the power to change someone’s life forever, even if they are not convicted. However, different murder charges exist to account for different situations. Fortunately, our murder defense lawyers can help you fight your charges regardless of what type of murder you have been accused of. The type of murder charges in a defendant’s case will depend on what their intention was when the other person’s death was caused.
According to Utah Code § 76-5-203(2), there are several definitions for the various types of murders that can occur in Lehi. In Utah, the killing of another person is classified as “homicide” and can be charged if the defendant intentionally killed another person or accidentally caused their death. Intentional murders are considered the most serious. Intentional murders are typically charged as first-degree felonies. A person could face a minimum of 15 years to life in prison and $10,000 in fines if they knowingly or intentionally cause the death of another person. Intentional murder can also be charged if the defendant knowingly created a serious risk of death and showed indifference to human life. Intentional Murder can also be charged if the defendant caused another person’s death while committing another felony, like robbery.
A person can also be charged if they unintentionally caused the death of another person. These types of murders are usually the result of extreme negligence or recklessness. Even though negligent murders are not caused on purpose, they are still usually charged as second-degree felonies and can still carry heavy penalties. Defendants convicted of manslaughter or negligent homicide can be sentenced to a maximum of 15 years in prison if they recklessly cause the death of another person and also have to pay a maximum fine of $10,000.
The defining factor of any murder charge is what the defendant’s intention was when the other person’s death was caused. However, you could still face harsh penalties even if you never intended to cause harm to another person.
Types of Murder Charges in Lehi, UT
While murders are categorized by the intentional or unintentional nature of the killing, these categories are further broken down into separate murder charges. Murder charges will typically depend on the level of culpability the defendant had when the crime occurred and their actions in causing the other person’s death.
Murder is the most serious of the homicide charges and is punishable by life in prison or a death sentence. As mentioned, a murder charge can be brought against someone who kills another person without premeditation, but it can also be brought against someone who kills another person intentionally. While the penalties for a typical homicide charge can be severe, the charges and penalties could be upgraded if there were aggravating circumstances in the case.
Aggravated murder charges are reserved for the most serious murder cases and are typically applied in cases involving heinous circumstances. According to Utah Code § 76-5-202, a person can be charged with aggravated murder if they commit the crime while incarcerated or if they created a serious risk of death to others besides the victim. Aggravated murder charges will also apply to situations where the murder was committed for financial gain or for the purpose of avoiding arrest. However, murder charges could be upgraded if other aggravating factors are present.
Aggravated murder is usually charged as a first-degree felony, and the state has the option of pursuing the death penalty in these cases. This is known as “capital” murder. However, a defendant could be sentenced to life without parole if the death penalty is not being sought by the prosecution.
Manslaughter involves killing someone unintentionally while committing an unlawful act that creates a substantial risk of serious bodily injury or death to another person, such as driving drunk. The difference from other murder charges is that the defendant does not intend to cause another person’s death but does so through their reckless behavior. Manslaughter is punishable by up to 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine for involuntary manslaughter. For voluntary manslaughter, it’s up to 20 years and $20,000.
Negligent murder is like manslaughter in that the other person’s death is unintentional but with a lower level of criminal culpability. Manslaughter is caused by reckless behavior, while negligent murder is caused when a person greatest a substantial risk of harm without being aware of it. It is criminal, though, because a reasonable person would be aware that the conduct could cause death or injury.
Because negligence is not considered as bad as recklessness, the penalties for negligent murder will typically be less than that for manslaughter. Negligent homicide is usually charged as a Class A misdemeanor, which can carry a penalty of up to one year in jail.
Murder by Assault
Another type of unintentional murder is when someone is killed during an assault. In these situations, the perpetrator means the other person harm or bodily injury but might not intend to kill them. However, if the assault results in the person’s death, the offender can be charged with a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison. The charges could be upgraded however depending on whether there were aggravating circumstances and who the victim was and their relationship to the defendant.
Vehicular murder, also known as vehicular homicide, is charged when a person causes the death of another with a vehicle. This is closely related to negligent homicide since most vehicular homicides are the result of negligence. However, vehicular murder charges are common in DUI cases where a drunk driver caused the death of another person. Vehicular homicide can be charged as a third-degree or second-degree felony and penalized by up to five years in prison.
Our Lehi, UT Murder Defense Lawyers Can Help
Contact Overson Law, PLLC at (801) 758-2287 for a free evaluation of your case with our murder defense attorneys.