People often ask criminal lawyers: “What is a violent crime?” Contrary to the obvious response that it is a crime that involves violence, there is a specific list in Maryland law of what qualifies as a “crime of violence.”
The Criminal Law Article, §14-101 lists abduction, arson, kidnapping, voluntary manslaughter, murder, rape, robbery, carjacking, various sex offenses and first degree assault (among a few others) as designated “crimes of violence.” Violent crimes are among the most serious offenses the criminal justice system deals with, and the penalties reflect this. If you have been charged with, or are suspected of committing a violent crime, you need a lawyer immediately.
An experienced and attentive criminal defense attorney can explore all of your options and make sure that no stone is left unturned. Proper diligence and preparation can be the difference between a justified homicide and a murder conviction. Legal homicide is committed anytime one human kills another, but whether it is a criminal act or not depends on the circumstances.
Accidents which result in death, yet are purely accidental or unavoidable are not criminal, but can sometimes be charged as criminal acts by over-zealous or misinformed police and prosecutors. Some homicides which are intentional may be excused or mitigated by the appropriate circumstances.
Even if a person is charged with first-degree murder they may still pose defenses that could mitigate their punishment, perhaps even exonerating them entirely. Self-defense and defense of others are still valid defenses in Maryland but only in very limited circumstances, and an experienced defense attorney can identify winning strategies to defend the case.
There are differing degrees of murder, so even if it was an intentional act it is important to explore the facts which caused the homicide. Heat of passion crimes, and homicides caused by criminally reckless or negligent behavior may all be charged the same, but before accepting a plea, a charged person and their defense attorney should explore all avenues of building a possible defense.
If you or a loved one have been charged with homicide or manslaughter don’t wait, consult a lawyer immediately. Working with an experienced attorney will help ensure that all possible defenses are pursued and all evidence is preserved so that it can be admissible under the evidentiary rules.