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When charged with an attempted murder charge, it is imperative that you retain experienced and skilled criminal defence lawyer who will prepare your best defence possible from the moment you are either investigated, arrested and charged. Whether there was an attempt murder largely dependent on the circumstances of your particular case. Since developing a defence to attempted murder requires extensive analysis of the evidence of your particular case, it is highly recommended that you seek the assistance of an experienced and detail-oriented criminal defence lawyer to immediately start building a strong strategy for your case as soon as possible.
Attempted murder, also referred to as attempted homicide, is essentially the incomplete or unsuccessful act of killing someone. Although it may seem obvious, the criminal act of attempted murder, unlike the criminal act of murder, does not result in the death of another person. Similar to the crime of murder, attempted murder is a serious criminal offense that carries significant criminal penalties, including substantial prison time.
The attempt has to be serious enough that death could have resulted from it. The main difference between attempted murder and other serious offences against the person, such as grievous bodily harm, is the intent to kill.
Murder is a homicide committed with “malice aforethought.”. That doesn’t mean it is a malicious killing. Malice aforethought is the common law way of saying that it is an unjustified killing. And, for a killing to be a murder, there typically has to be either an intent to kill, or, at minimum, conduct so reckless that it is punishable as murder.
Murder usually is broken down into degrees. First degree murder punishes premeditated killings, the killing of especially vulnerable people (such as children), and unintended killings done while intentionally committing another serious felony. This last kind of first degree murder is called felony murder.
Attempted Murder, however, requires the prosecution to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant had a specific intent to kill, which means, he or she had fully formed intent to kill and was aware of that intention. The prosecution therefore must prove that the defendant specifically intended that death result from the attempted homicide. Unlike Murder in the first degree, a death may occur as an unintended consequence which would equate to a lesser degree of murder (second or third degree).
In most jurisdictions, attempted murder charges consist of two elements:
Merely wanting or planning to kill someone will not result in charges of attempted murder. The offender must take a step towards completion of this act. This may be the use of a weapon in such a manner that would potentially cause death, stalking the intended victim, or luring them to a specific location in order to commit the act.
You cannot accidentally commit attempted murder. To be convicted of attempted murder, a prosecutor must show that the accused specifically intended to commit the crime. The prosecutor must not only show that the accused intended to kill, but that the intent was to kill the specific victim.
A conviction for attempted murder carries a maximum possible sentence of imprisonment for life, and, if committed with a restricted or prohibited firearm in connection with organized crime, a minimum mandatory sentence of 5 years in prison, or, if committed with any type of firearm, a minimum sentence of 4 years in prison. If the sentence is imprisonment for life, the accused will be eligible to apply for parole after 7 years imprisonment.
Most jurisdictions have degrees of attempted murder charges. A first-degree attempted murder charge requires premeditation or a willful act; a second-degree attempted murder charge is any other act that is not planned or deliberate.
First-degree attempted murder carries greater penalties and often means a life sentence with the possibility of parole. Offenders typically spend at least 10 years in prison, although mandatory minimum sentences for attempting to murder a public official may be 10 to 15 years. Federal laws for attempting to kill a member of Congress or other federal official impose penalties ranging from 70 to 162 months. Second degree murder also includes deaths that occur while the accused is engaged in committing another felony, such as arson or burglary. (However, states can vary as to how they categorize first and second degree murder.)
Some prosecutions fail because the state’s attorney cannot prove that the accused committed a direct step, or that the accused had the specific intent to murder. But sometimes, the jury may not convict due to a particular defense offered by the defendant.
Self-defense: It can be a valid, affirmative defense if the defendant “reasonably believes that he or she is in imminent danger of suffering bodily injury and that the immediate use of force was necessary to prevent such injury.
Suicide pact: If you entered into a suicide pact, where you attempted to kill the other person, and the court is satisfied that you had the settled intention to die yourself, you may be able to rely upon this defence.
Abandonment: It is another defense to attempted murder. Abandonment means that even if you originally planned to take the life of another human being, if you took no direct step to do so, you cannot be convicted of attempted murder.
Can prove mental illness: As a primary element to any criminal act, a defendant is presumed to be of sound mind and judgement, despite ignoring laws and moral guidelines that oppose. To prove the mental illness defence requires evidence that a defect of reason was caused by a “disease of the mind” in the accused.
Attempted murder is a serious crime that can lead to life imprisonment. When facing these charges, it is in your best interest to seek counsel that can help you understand the charges you are facing and work for a successful result.
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