We’ll admit that the letter of the law can be just a bit complicated at times, and sifting through the penal code can be a hassle. So at Joseph Potashnik and Associates, PC, we think that you’re better off reading the basis of the law in natural language so you can get to the point of the law and not get caught up in the lingo. In this post, we’re going to explain charges for the crime of murder in the first degree.

Murder in the first degree

As you might’ve seen in our other posts, there are a couple ways that you can be considered guilty of this particular crime. First of all, you’d have to cause the death of someone else with the intent to do so. If that happens, you need an NYC criminal attorney who can help you. Along with that, you’d also have to have either killed a police officer who was on duty while knowing this was the case, or killed a peace officer who was performing their duties, and you knew this was also the case, or if the victim was a firefighter, ambulance driver, physician, or other type of healthcare professional who was doing their job at the time of the killing, and you knew they were doing this. Another way to be considered guilty of this would be if the intended victim was an employee of a correctional facility, was doing their job, and you killed them knowing this was the case, or if you were in a correctional facility at the time of the killing and were sentenced for a term of your natural life, or on a sentence that had a minimum of fifteen years and the maximum was natural life, or if you’d escaped prison for such a sentence and then committed the crime. Another way this would apply would be if the victim was a witness to an earlier crime and you killed them in order to prevent them from exposing you in court, or if the victim had previously testified and this killing was done out of retribution, or the victim was a family member of a witness to a crime and the killing was done to influence the witness’s testimony, or even if the victim was a family member of someone who already testified against you and this was done as retribution.

There are a few other ways that you could be considered guilty of this crime. That would be if you committed the killing because of an agreement that someone else that they’d commit the same crime for you, or if you expected some sort of gain from this killing, or if you killed this person while you were committing or attempting to commit robbery, kidnapping, burglary, or other similar charges, or if you killed someone while trying to escape the scene of the crime of one of these previously mentioned crimes. This is all provided that the victim wasn’t participating in one of the crimes with you. Also, you’d be guilty of this if you caused the death of an additional person while engaged in this crime, or if you’d been convicted of murder before committing this killing. Lastly, you’d have to be over eighteen at the time of the crime to be guilty of murder in the first degree.

Now there are a few affirmative defenses that fall under this charge. One of these is if you acted under the influence of some extreme kind of emotional disturbance that there was a reasonable cause for. Another way would be if your conduct consisted of either causing or aiding someone else to commit suicide. Murder in the first degree is considered to be a class A-I felony.

So yes, the law can at times be complicated, confusing, even convoluted. That doesn’t mean, however, that it can’t be understood and used in your favor. Here at Joseph Potashnik and Associates, PC, we believe that the most important thing is to get a handle on how exactly the law works so there won’t be any surprises in the legal process. So if you’re facing some sort of legal trouble, or think that you might face something like this in the future, it would be best for you to get in touch with someone here at the firm. It’ll really be the best thing you do today.