Maryland Homicide Lawyer
Murder Cases Litigated by Jezic & Moyse
Degrees of Murder in Maryland
Homicide and manslaughter are some of the most serious criminal offenses and have the most severe personal and legal consequences. In Maryland, the killing of another human being is broken up into three categories: first degree murder, second degree murder, and manslaughter. Each offense is a felony under state law.
First Degree Murder:
This type of murder is a willful, premeditated and deliberate killing of a human being. It can be committed a number of ways; lying in wait, poisoning, arson, during burglary, armed or unarmed carjacking, escape from a correctional facility, kidnapping, mayhem, rape, robbery, first or second degree sexual assault, or sodomy. Those convicted may face up to life in prison, with or without the possibility of parole.
However, prosecutors are no longer permitted to seek the death penalty. Attempted first degree murder receives the same treatment, though the victim was not killed.
Second Degree Murder:
Second degree murder is defined as any murder that does not qualify as first degree. In other words, any murder that is not considered willful, premeditated or deliberate. Defendants can face up to 30 years in prison. Those convicted of attempted second degree murder face the same penalties.
If the murder is committed during the commission of a separate felony that is considered inherently dangerous and the victim dies as a result, a person may be charged with second degree murder whether or not they had the intent to kill the victim.
Manslaughter is the killing of a human being without malice aforethought, unlike first and second degree murder. For instance, an accidental shooting might be charged as manslaughter. Those convicted may face up to ten years in prison.
The penalties for manslaughter by motor vehicle or vessel are similar, with fines up to $5,000 and up to ten years imprisonment, or both.
Given the gravity of the offenses and the impact they can have on your life, if you are faced with such charges, you should contact an experienced Maryland murder lawyer to help protect you both personally and legally, and to help beat the charges.
Homicide/manslaughter by vehicle or vessel
Vehicular homicide is usually the result of when an operator is under the influence of alcohol or drugs, another person is killed due to their actions. Drunk driving is the most common case of this offense, due to the driver’s negligent operation of their vehicle. The state of Maryland has four different statutes defining vehicular homicide, including:
- Vehicular Homicide While Under the Influence Of Alcohol (Code 2-503)
- Vehicular Homicide While Impaired by Alcohol (Code 2-504)
- Vehicular Homicide While Impaired by Drugs (Code 2-505)
- Vehicular Homicide While Impaired by a Controlled Substance (Code 2-506)
Vehicular manslaughter occurs when an individual causes the death of another person due to gross or criminal negligence. The distinction between the two is determined by the degree of awareness of the vehicle operator. With gross negligence, the defendant is aware of their risky behavior, and acts with disregard for human life. Criminal negligence occurs when the defendant should have been aware that their behavior puts lives at risk, but failed to see it this way.
Penalties for vehicular homicide/manslaughter
The penalties handed down by the Maryland court system for homicide/manslaughter will vary depending on the crime committed, and the degree of fault of the defendant. Here are the maximum penalties for each offense:
- Manslaughter: Felony crime that can result in up to 10 years in prison and a $500 fine
- Vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence: Felony crime that can result in up to 10 years in prison and a $5,000 fine
- Vehicular manslaughter with criminal negligence: Misdemeanor crime that can result in up to 3 years in prison and a $5,000 fine
- Vehicular homicide under the influence of alcohol: Felony crime that can result in up to 5 years in prison and a $5,000 fine
Vehicular homicide while impaired by alcohol, drugs, or a controlled substance: Felony crime that can result in up to 3 years in prison and a $5,000 fine
For a greater explanation of Maryland homicide laws you can read the Maryland Official Code.