Columbia Murder Lawyer

When you are a suspect in a murder investigation, obtaining legal representation as soon as possible is imperative. Homicide, the unlawful killing of another, is the most serious charge you can face. All types of homicide, including voluntary and involuntary manslaughter, are felonies that carry lengthy prison sentences. In addition, being charged with homicide can lead to other significant consequences that could diminish your reputation and ability to get a job.

A Columbia murder lawyer could help you by speaking with prosecutors or the police to determine what evidence is being used in your case. A legal professional can also present your version of the events to the prosecution in an attempt to reduce the charges, arrange a plea bargain, or even get the charges dismissed. That is why it is critical to speak with an experienced defense attorney as soon as possible.

What Is Homicide?

South Carolina Code § 16-3-1 defines homicide in the state. Unlike most states, it does not contain degrees of homicide. Instead, it provides that all homicides involve the unlawful killing of another. Murder is the killing of a person with express or implied malice. Voluntary manslaughter involves the unlawful killing of another without malice. Involuntary manslaughter involves the unlawful killing of another due to recklessness.

In addition to murder and manslaughter, the murder statute also covers attempted murder and reckless vehicular homicide. While the state does not have degrees of murder, it does have four different ways to present theories when charging a defendant with murder. Potential elements of a prosecution’s case may include the:

  • Intent to kill
  • Intent to inflict grievous bodily harm
  • Extreme reckless indifference to human life
  • Intent to commit a felony

If the prosecution can prove any of these, the state may obtain a murder conviction. The state can also present alternative murder theories, which provide several ways for the jury to reach a conviction. A Columbia murder attorney can help force the prosecution to avoid alternative theories and focus on the facts at hand.

The Element of Malice

What differentiates murder from manslaughter charges is malice. Malice is a mental state or state of mind that can be expressed or implied.

Express malice refers to an intent to kill another person. For example, if a defendant made threats to kill the victim, those threats would be evidence of express malice. However, the prosecution cannot use prior threats to prove malice. Proving a motive is one way to establish malice.

Implied malice exists when the defendant kills someone in the absence of proof of provocation. Implied malice does not require the defendant to have any personal grudge or vendetta against the victim.

Malice is a crucial element of a murder charge. One of the things that a Columbia murder defense attorney can help with is challenging the idea of malice. Without proof of malice, the state cannot prove a murder charge. That can make a huge difference for a defendant and bring down the minimum sentence from thirty years to two.

Penalties for Murder

The state offers three possible sentences for convicted murderers:

  • 30 years to life
  • Life without the possibility of parole
  • The death penalty

The minimum punishment for a murder conviction is a 30-year sentence. The court can also consider aggravating factors to enhance a defendant’s sentence.

Consult With a Columbia Murder Attorney Today

Being investigated for murder is overwhelming and frightening, regardless of whether or not you committed the crime in question. A Columbia murder lawyer can examine several potential defenses, including alibis, false accusations, and self-defense. Schedule your confidential consultation with an attorney today to discuss how best to protect yourself and your rights under the circumstances of your case.