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Understanding Murder in Suffolk County, Massachusetts

Murder in Suffolk

Murder is any premeditated killing of a person by another. Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 265, Section 1 defines murder as the deliberate act of killing a human being.

What is First-Degree Murder in Suffolk County?

A deliberate and unjustified killing with premeditated malice or extreme cruelty is classified as first-degree murder.

A murder case is classified as first-degree if there was

  • Premeditated Malice: This term focuses on the thinking process of the accused before committing the crime. Premeditated malice tends to look at whether the murder was spontaneous or the defendant committed the crime after a short or long period of thinking or planning. Under Massachusetts Law, premeditated malice is a significant element considered in classifying first-degree murders.
  • Extreme Atrocity or Cruelty: A jury may infer extreme atrocity or cruelty by examining the evidence on the victims’ degree of physical injuries, the number of times the victim was attacked with a weapon, as well as the type of weapon used.
  • Felony Murder: Felony murder, also felony homicide, is the killing of a person during a felonious act. For example, killing someone while carrying out a bank robbery is first-degree murder. While the killing was not intentional, other factors determining a murder, such as intent, are extrapolated into the felony committed. The fact that there was death during the felony or the attempt to commit the felony classifies the case as first-degree murder.

The penalty for first-degree murder is life imprisonment without parole. If the offender was between their 14th and 18th birthday, they might face life imprisonment in the state prison but with parole. The accused will be eligible for parole after the term of years ordered by the court.

What is Second-Degree Murder in Suffolk County?

The definition of second-degree murder in Suffolk County, according to the Massachusetts Law, is any murder that is not classified as first-degree murder. Elements of second-degree murder include

  • The accused must have caused the death of the victim.
  • There must be evidence that there was intent before the crime was committed and that the defendant was aware that the act could lead to death. Also, the prosecution must prove that the defendant intended to inflict serious bodily harm on the victim.
  • In a self-defense situation, the defendants acted disproportionately in self-defense or protection of another person.

A second-degree murder conviction is punishable with life imprisonment in the state prison with eligibility for parole after years fixed by the court.

What is Third-Degree Murder in Suffolk County?

Massachusetts has no classification for third-degree murder. However, manslaughter in the state’s laws is a lesser murder charge.

What is Manslaughter in Suffolk County?

Manslaughter charges follow the unlawful killing of a person without intent or premeditation. In manslaughter, the death is unintentional and involuntarily caused by reckless actions or negligence.

The penalties for manslaughter include:

  • Maximum of 20 years imprisonment in the state prison
  • A fine of not more than $1,000, including two and a half years imprisonment

The punishment for anyone who commits manslaughter while in possession of an incendiary device or hoax device is life imprisonment or a jail term for the number of years determined by the court.

Additionally, any business organization that commits manslaughter will be liable to a maximum fine of $250,000, and or a 10-year ban.

What is Vehicular Manslaughter?

Vehicular manslaughter is the charge for reckless or negligent killing while driving. Committing a homicide while operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or any other intoxicating substance is categorized as vehicular manslaughter.

The punishment for manslaughter committed while driving under the influence is a minimum of 5 years jail term and a maximum of 20 years with a fine of not more than $25,000. The sentencing may be reduced to 5 years. In this case, the convict will not be eligible for furlough, probation, parole, or receive a deduction of jail term for good conduct.

What is Voluntary Manslaughter?

Taking the life of an individual in the heat of passion or an extreme emotional state, such as rage, is described as voluntary manslaughter. The main element is that the offender had no deliberate intent to commit the crime, but their extreme response to a situation resulted in a homicide.

What is Involuntary Manslaughter?

A person might be charged with involuntary manslaughter if they engaged in reckless conduct, leading to death. For instance, if the perpetrator mugged an older person, causing them to have a heart attack and eventually die, they may be charged with involuntary manslaughter.

What Type of Lawyer do I Need for a Murder Charge in Suffolk County?

A criminal lawyer is a professional, trained, and qualified to defend individuals accused of murder. The lawyer can employ their skills and experience to ensure the accused gets a fair hearing. They can also guide the accused through the criminal legal system, protect their constitutional rights, build a defense that may lead to a dismissal or acquittal, depending on the facts of the case and available evidence.

The attorney may also defeat the charge on technical grounds, especially where the prosecution or law enforcement violates the accused’s constitutional rights in a bid to bolster their case.

The defense attorney’s argument may include

  • Proof of self-defense: A lawyer may argue that the murder occurred in the process of self-defense, and the force applied was commensurate and justifiable.
  • Alibi is a claim supported by any evidence that shows the accused was not present at the scene and time of the crime.
  • Exculpatory forensic evidence: An evidence favorable to the accused in a criminal trial is referred to as exculpatory. An example is if the DNA test from the murder scene points to another individual and not the defendant.
  • Challenges to forensic evidence: A killed lawyer may argue the results from a crime scene have been contaminated and is invalid.
  • Evidence of mental illness or defect: In this case, a lawyer may admit that the defendant has committed the crime but convince the court that the individual has a mental disease or other defects. As such, the attorney may request treatment and not imprisonment.