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Matthew Radefeld & Dan Juengel
Matthew A. Radefeld and Daniel A. Juengel

Committing a violent crime could take away your freedom

On Behalf of | Feb 18, 2021 | Violent Crimes |

Violent crime is prevalent across St. Louis. In fact, 2020 was the deadliest year in St. Louis in several decades. If the state has charged you with homicide, you need an experienced and skilled St. Louis criminal defense lawyer guiding you through the complex legal process ahead. 

The United States Constitution provides you with the absolute right to a lawyer. However, this right only provides you with free access to public defenders. These lawyers do exceptional work, but they are often over-worked with a larger caseload than they can handle. When your life is on the line, you want to have the most skilled and experienced legal team focusing on protecting your rights. That’s why it is vital you choose a criminal defense lawyer in St. Louis with proven experience helping clients like you.

Murder in Missouri

Homicide is defined as a violent crime everywhere across the country. In Missouri, the legislature has defined first degree murder as: “A person commits the crime of murder in the first degree if he knowingly causes the death of another person after deliberation upon the matter.” This statute makes clear that for someone to be guilty of first degree murder, they must have actively caused the death of another human and had the intent to kill that person.

First degree murder would not include vehicular homicide, for example. If you get into a terrible car accident where another person dies, a death occurred, but you did not have any intent to cause a death. In that example, your crime could not be first degree murder.

When you have caused someone else’s death, there are three varying degrees of a murder charge. These include:

  • First degree murder — you intentionally killed another person
  • Second degree murder — you killed another person, but did not think about doing so in advance
  • Involuntary manslaughter — another person died, but you did not intend to kill anyone

Even though there is a clear distinction, prosecutors often aim high. They may charge you with a more serious crime than what they may be able to prove in court. This is all in an effort to get you to plead to a lower crime. This helps the prosecutor close cases and lets them stand on their record that they are tough on crime.

Unfortunately, that can mean you may spend more time in jail than what you should. With a knowledgeable defense lawyer, your case will get the attention it deserves. Your lawyer will try their best to get you a suitable outcome, given the specific facts of your case.

Criminal Penalties

Depending on which degree of murder the state has charged you with, the penalties you face will vary. The penalties for each degree are listed here:

  • First degree murder — life in prison or death penalty
  • Second degree murder — 5 to 15 years in prison
  • Involuntary manslaughter — no more than 7 years in prison

No matter which charge you face, your freedom is at risk. Your ability to successfully defend and negotiate a fair plea can depend on the lawyer you choose to represent you in your criminal case. Choosing a lawyer can seem like a daunting task, but it is one that you must focus on because you face extreme penalties. 

Regardless of the crime with which the state has charged you, you need a lawyer to help you protect your rights. You may not  understand your constitutional rights or negotiate with the prosecutor. That is the job of your St. Louis criminal defense attorney.