If you or a loved one is facing homicide charges, you have a reason to be concerned. While homicide attracts the most prohibitive sentences throughout the U.S., the punishments vary from state to state. In Missouri, first-degree murder convictions could lead to a life sentence or the death penalty. Given the sentences that the accused person might be subjected to, it’s important to remember that there are several possible defenses.
For the accused to be convicted, the prosecution must prove that he or she intentionally killed another person. First-degree murder charges could be contested on the following grounds.
You acted in self-defense or defense of others
If you were attacked or your life was in danger, your attorney could argue that you used the means available to defend yourself, thereby leading to the attacker’s death. You could also have acted the way you did to protect the life of another person who was facing imminent danger. Other examples of defense of others include you could have been saving a spouse from the hands of a rapist or a child from a kidnapper.
You could be the victim of mistaken identity
The prosecuting officers on a first-degree murder charge need to prove beyond any reasonable doubt that the person they have arraigned in court committed the crime. In many situations, prosecutors rely on eyewitness accounts, which can be an unreliable form of evidence.
An alibi places you somewhere else other than the place of the crime
This defense is used to provide evidence that at the time the crime was committed you were not at the scene and could therefore not have committed the crime. If, for instance, you were attending a meeting in another city, your alibi could exonerate you.
The police infringed on your rights when carrying out investigations.
Did the arresting officers respect your rights when carrying out the arrest? Arresting officers should have a search warrant, and they would be breaking the law if they arrested you without one.
Police officers must also collect and store evidence with care. Could there be evidence that the police investigations were hurried? Could the officers have destroyed or lost some of the evidence? In a nutshell, there are often good grounds to contest prosecution evidence in a homicide case.
Owing to the severe sentences that they attract, homicide cases should be contested. From the moment you’re approached by law enforcement officers up to the time you’re presented in court, you should ensure that your rights are protected.