A charge of second degree murder is life altering. The crime is one of the most serious offenses under Washington law and a conviction can lead to a life in prison. An allegation of committing this crime demands the assistance of a skilled and experienced criminal defense attorney. The lawyers at Black & Askerov have the experience and determination that matters. They’ll work tirelessly to defend your freedoms at every step of the way.
What is Second Degree Murder?
The laws on murder in the second degree are set forth in RCW 9A.32.050. A person commits this offense if he or she intentionally kills another person. Unlike first degree murder, this crime does not require that the offender act with premeditation. “Premeditation” refers to the intent to kill the victim for a period of time before the actual murder.
For example, consider the neighbors Hector and Jose. Hector goes over to Jose’s house one day to talk about a mutual friend. Jose tells Hector that he never liked the guy and that he also thinks Hector is a fool for being friends with him. Things grow ugly and a fight eventually erupts. As it escalates, Hector grabs a knife from Jose’s kitchen and stabs him in the neck with it, killing him.
Here, Hector is guilty of second degree murder. He intentionally killed Jose with a knife. Note, though, that this is not murder in the first degree. Hector never had the intent to kill before the actual stabbing. This means the killing was not premeditated.
A person can also be found guilty of second degree murder if:
- The person commits a felony, and
- A person dies in the course of that felony.
This set of events is often referred to as “felony murder.” A prosecutor only has to prove that a death occurred for a felony murder conviction. The prosecutor does not have to prove that the defendant intended the killing.
Second degree murder is a Class A felony. The offense is punishable by:
- Up to life in prison, and/or
- A maximum fine of $50,000.
Are there Legal Defenses?
An accused can raise a legal defense to challenge a murder charge. A common defense is for the defendant to assert that he or she acted in self-defense. A person is justified in using deadly force in self-defense when he or she:
- believes that he/she, or someone else, is in imminent danger of being killed or suffering great bodily injury,
- believes he/she must use deadly force to prevent death or injury, and
- uses an appropriate level of force (under the circumstances) in self-defense.
While other defenses may exist, please know that it will take the work of an experienced criminal defense attorney to raise the most effective defense. The criminal defense lawyers at Black & Askerov have over 25 years of combined experience fighting for their clients. This includes clients charged with murder and homicide. They have the grit and determination that makes all the difference in these cases. Plus, they represent all of their clients with an unmatched passion and devotion to justice. Contact them now to get the legal help you deserve.