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Understanding murder charges and defenses in New York

Facing criminal charges is a serious situation for residents in New York and elsewhere. Conviction of a serious or violent crime can carry severe penalties, resulting in the need of a strong defense strategy before and during trial. Those accused of a serious crime such as murder charges should understand the charges they face, possible penalties and defense options in order to make knowledgeable decisions that could have a serious impact on their lives.

According to New York law, first-degree murder is, roughly speaking, intentional, premeditated conduct that causes the death of a person. Intentional murder, another form of homicide, is elevated to a first-degree murder charge when probable cause exists that a defendant intended to cause the death of a person and either causes their death or a third person's death and an aggravating factor is present. In addition, the accused must be more than 18 years old at the time of the crime to be charged with first-degree murder.

New York law considers first-degree murder a class A-I felony. This carries penalties such as life imprisonment without parole or imprisonment for 10 to 25 years. While the death penalty is listed as a possible penalty in section 60.06 of the New York Penal Code, this is no longer a viable penalty and has been ruled unconstitutional in the state's highest court.

Possible defense options for first-degree murder include self-defense, mental disease, extreme emotional disturbance, assisted suicide without the use of duress or deception, defense of another person and other related defenses. Using an appropriate defense could help a defendant with reducing their charges or even getting some or all of the charges against them dismissed.

Every charge is based on different facts, and all defendants have unique personal and criminal backgrounds. It is important to address the facts of the matter and the criminal history of the defendant when constructing a criminal defense. It is also important to seek guidance to take care that their rights are upheld and interests protected.

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James M. Wagman, Attorney at Law

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