When you or someone you care about has been accused of murder, homicide, or manslaughter, you are facing the most serious criminal charges anyone can face in Nebraska. It is imperative to seek legal counsel immediately to protect your rights.
The Nebraska homicide attorneys of Berry Law have tried numerous homicide cases. Our firm understands the value of thorough preparation and we possess a steadfast focus on defending people accused of serious criminal charges.
We have the legal skills and fortitude to defend you against these allegations, and we know that your life is in our hands. We understand that you put your faith in our capability and we will be unwavering in our commitment to building you the strongest defense possible.
Serious Charges Need Expert Legal Representation
Although you are innocent until proven guilty, when someone has died, the burden seems to shift to the Defendant to prove their innocence.
It’s crucial to acknowledge the severity of the situation and to take immediate steps to protect your rights by ensuring you receive the best legal representation possible.
A homicide attorney in Nebraska will protect your rights and defend your future by building a solid legal strategy and acting aggressively as your advocate in negotiations and court.
What Are the Differences Between Homicide, Murder, and Manslaughter?
Homicide is a word that refers to the killing of another person, regardless of whether doing so constitutes a crime. For example, If you kill a person, but acted in self-defense, it may be a homicide, but not a crime. Also, the motives, intentions, and methods of death are all considerations that can affect the classification or degree of the charge. And, every jurisdiction has different definitions and penalties. Understanding the general terminology associated with criminal homicide charges can be helpful. Here is a clarification of some of the terms.
This is generally a homicide that involves intention. The person who carried out the homicide intended to take away their life without legal justification. Keep in mind that there are varying degrees of murder charges, and the weight of each one is different.
First Degree Murder
There are two basic ways the State can charge murder in Nebraska: 1) Premeditated Murder, which generally means intentionally killing another after deliberation and premeditation; and 2) Felony Murder, which is when a death results from perpetrating or attempting to perpetrate one or more specific crimes (i.e., first-degree sexual assault, arson, robbery, burglary, kidnapping, or hijacking of any public or private means of transportation).
First-degree murder carries a mandatory life sentence, but, can also be punished by death if certain aggravating circumstances are proven to exist and to outweigh mitigating circumstances.
Second Degree Murder
Under Nebraska law, second-degree murder occurs when someone is killed intentionally, but, without premeditation and not upon a sudden quarrel. But, premeditation can occur “instantaneously” with the act of killing. And, it is punishable by twenty years to life imprisonment.
Like First Degree Murder, Manslaughter in Nebraska also takes two forms: 1) Sudden Quarrel Manslaughter and 2) Unlawful Act Manslaughter. Under Nebraska case law, Sudden Quarrel Manslaughter generally refers to killing in response to a “legally recognized and sufficient provocation which causes a reasonable person to lose normal self-control.” The Court will instruct the jury that the “question is whether there existed reasonable and adequate provocation to excite one’s passion and obscure and disturb one’s power of reasoning to the extent that one acted rashly and from passion, without due deliberation and reflection, rather than from judgment.”
This means that the circumstances prevented the actor from being able to deliberate. A classic example is when a spouse finds their partner in bed with someone else and kills them.
Unlawful Act Manslaughter is like felony murder in that death occurs during the commission of another crime, but, the crime can be much less serious than those required for Felony Murder. There are also specific charges like Motor Vehicle Homicide that can be filed when a death results from an unlawful act (i.e., drunk driving or child abuse). Manslaughter is punishable by up to 20 years of imprisonment in Nebraska.
Some cases can be defended with these common strategies and used to prove your innocence in court. Every situation is different and the details of your case will be thoroughly examined to determine the strongest defense strategy possible.
Some legal defense strategies that can be considered include:
- Self-defense: If an act was committed in the defense of yourself or others, it becomes a justifiable homicide.
- Alibi/misidentification: Murder charges can often be brought against the wrong person. Mistaken identity is possible. Digital forensic technology can be used to prove your innocence.
- Unlawful search and seizure: Police and law enforcement must follow procedure and respect civil rights when securing evidence. This evidence can be thrown out if it was obtained illegally.
- Insanity/ lack of mental capacity: Proving that the defendant lacks the ability to understand the nature and consequences of what they were doing or the difference between right and wrong could be a viable legal defense.
The laws defining murder and the distinctions between first-degree, second-degree, and manslaughter are very complicated in Nebraska. You need a qualified, experienced attorney to properly investigate the case and educate the jury about the interplay between the charges and possible defenses. A Nebraska homicide attorney can also counter flawed arguments and demonstrate your innocence using expert testimony and forensic evidence.
Contact a Nebraska Homicide Law Firm
If you or a loved one have been charged with homicide, it’s crucial to seek legal counsel as soon as possible. An attorney can work to build your defense from the moment after the arrest and help to protect your rights as we prepare for negotiations and trial.
Everyone deserves the right to a fair trial, but all lawyers are not created equal. You can level the playing field with help from a law firm with hundreds of years of collective criminal defense experience. Contact Berry Law today to learn how to put our experience to work for you.