Defining the different types of homicide

Homicide encompasses the broad category of killing another human being.  Typically, homicide is divided into either intentional killings or non-intentional killings.  Regardless of the type of homicide, a conviction of this type of crime will carry severe punishments, up to and including life-long prison terms.  If you are charged with a homicide, it is imperative that you seek out an experienced homicide lawyer immediately to represent your interests.

Intentional killings.  Although exact definitions will vary from state to state, an intentional killing is defined as murder.  There are two types of murder.  The first, and more serious is first-degree murder which is defined a malicious and pre-meditated with the intent to deliberately kill another person.  In addition, any murder committed in the course of another felony, such as armed robbery, is also classified as a first-degree murder.  Second-degree murder is said to take place when there is an intent to kill another person, but without premeditation.  Second-degree murder takes place when another person is killed in the course of a person wanting to kill a completely different person.

Non-intentional killings.  These are also known as manslaughter crimes.  Manslaughter can either be charged as voluntary or involuntary, depending on the circumstances.  Voluntary manslaughter often takes place out of acts of passion or if a person is provoked.  Being provoked means that a person may be confronted physically and reacts in such a way that causes another person’s death.  Juries have the difficult job in trying to determine if a defendant used the right amount of force to defend themselves or if they used too much force in response after they were attacked.  Involuntary manslaughter takes place when a person kills another unintentionally, but through their reckless or negligent actions.  In many cases, drunk driving resulting in a person being killed has been considered a form of involuntary manslaughter, although this definition will vary from state to state.

Dwane Cates Law Group proudly serves clients in Phoenix, Tempe, Glendale, Scottsdale, Mesa and surrounding Arizona communities.

The numerous benefits of hiring a skilled murder defense lawyer

Few crimes stir passions as much as the crime of murder.  It is sensationalized daily in the media.  It can be horrific by it’s details. And ultimately, it can decide the fate of not only the victim, but the defendant as well.

If you are charged with the crime of murder, make no mistake about it, you are in serious trouble and you need the help of a highly skilled and seasoned murder defense lawyer.  A strong legal defense team can not only make the difference of whether or not you go free, but ultimately if you are put to death if found guilty in certain circumstances.

Due to the high profile nature of a murder case, there may be public outcry for a conviction, causing the police, judge and prosecutors to be extremely aggressive in their pursuit of a guilty verdict.  That can lead to many forms of intimidation and cause mistakes in a defense strategy unless you have top notch representation.

Another important skill a murder defense lawyer can bring to the table is the ability to be a strong negotiator on your behalf.  If there is a strong likelihood of conviction, then it may be in your best interests to avoid a trial and seek a plea bargain which may still result in a prison term, but with less of a penalty than might be the case in a trial.  An attorney may be able to use this to your advantage especially in cases where surviving relatives or friends would be too emotionally distraught to want to testify in a high profile environment.

In other cases where you may be able to claim self defense, a strong attorney will be able to use years of experience to independently investigate your case, find holes in the prosecution’s story, and craft an alternative version of the facts that may lead to an acquittal.

Dwane Cates Law Group proudly serves clients in Phoenix, Tempe, Glendale, Scottsdale, Mesa and surrounding Arizona communities

Possible defenses against an assault charge

Did you know that in most states, you don’t even have to actually strike a person to be charged with the crime of assault?  In most instances, just the act of threatening someone or to put them in immediate fear of being hit is enough to meet the standard for being charged.

A more serious charge of aggravated assault may take place when a person attempts to seriously injure another, or they cause an injury through the use of a deadly weapon.  In addition to facing criminal charges, if you commit assault, you may also be facing civil penalties as well, as you could be sued by a person who suffers an injury based on your actions.

While the crime of simple assault may seem straightforward to some people, an assault case is rarely, if ever, quite so simple.  That’s why no matter how small the crime appears to be, it just makes good sense to retain the services of a seasoned assault lawyer.

A lawyer may be able to employ several possible defenses on your behalf, depending on the circumstances of your case.

Some of the more common defenses of an assault case are:

Self defense.  To be able to use this as a defense strategy, it must be shown that a person perceived that there was a threat of harm against them, and that it was real and justified, and that they did not provoke their attacker nor did they have a reasonable chance of escaping the situation.

Defending others.  The same standards apply as in a straight self defense situation, except that your actions are in defense of another person instead of yourself.

Defending your property.  If someone illegally invades your property, you may be able to claim that you used a reasonable amount of force to defend your home and, in some cases, your personal property.

Dwane Cates Law Group proudly serves clients in Phoenix, Tempe, Glendale, Scottsdale, Mesa and surrounding Arizona communities

How to choose the right criminal attorney

Once you have been charged with a crime you’re probably going to be facing one of the most stressful situations you have ever encountered in your life.  Unless you are a repeat offender, you will encounter a system that is imposing and unforgiving.  You will not understand much of the mechanisms of the court system and that will lead to a certain amount of intimidation and fear.

With all these factors in mind, it is imperative that you hire the best possible criminal defense attorney for your situation.  If you are not diligent in finding the right criminal defense attorney, a bad situation could become even worse.

Here are some things to consider as you begin the process of finding a good fit.

First, you will not want to hire a rookie fresh out of law school.  The best way to defend you is for a lawyer to apply years of experience gained in the legal system.  Armed with this knowledge they can make the best possible defense on your behalf and for your criminal situation.  The experience of defense counsel should and needs to match your particular case as closely as possible.  An attorney with 20 years of experience in white collar crimes is not going to be the best fit for someone facing drunk driving or aggravated assault charges.  Many lawyers are generalists, but many others also practice law in narrowly defined areas of the court system.

Next, find a lawyer who knows the court system where your case is pending.  Laws may be the same throughout a state, but personalities, particulars and preferences can often times influence the outcome of a case.  Use known tendencies to your advantage to give you the best possible chance of acquittal.

Finally, you must have some sort of positive chemistry with your attorney.  You will be forming a close knit team to try and win your case and that pretty much demands a certain level of trust in working together.  When interviewing possible attorneys, if you don’t sense that they are personable and sympathetic to your issues, it may be best to move on to someone else.

Dwane Cates Law Group proudly serves clients in Phoenix, Tempe, Glendale, Scottsdale, Mesa and surrounding Arizona communities