Law Offices of Thomas C. Mooney - Criminal Defense
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Charged with second-degree murder, what are my defense options?

When charged with a serious crime, such as second-degree murder, it can be easy to feel lost and hopeless. Many Maryland residents do not believe that successfully fighting such a charge is possible. With any criminal case, there are a number of defense strategies to utilize that can help one achieve a case dismissal or, at least, charge and penalty reductions.

What defense options are there for a second-degree murder charge? Will any of them actually work? Why is it worth fighting for yourself?

Defense strategies

There are four defense strategies commonly used in second-degree murder cases. They are:

  • Claiming innocence
  • Pleading insanity
  • Claiming self-defense
  • Claiming intoxication played a role

Legal counsel can review the charges and evidence against you, and help you decide which, if any, is appropriate for your case.

Which of these tend to work most often?

Claiming innocence is the most common defense method used in these cases. Those who find success utilizing this strategy tend to have an alibi that checks out, or can provide other evidence that challenges the prosecution's evidence and raises doubt in the minds of the jurors. Claiming self-defense may work if one can prove there was a need to protect oneself.

Which of these strategies may not work?

Pleading insanity may only work if the accused has a diagnosed mental illness, so people do not use this often, and some jurisdictions may not accept it as a defense at all. Finally, claiming intoxication may only work in a select few cases. Voluntary intoxication is generally not an excuse to commit murder. Involuntary intoxication, on the other hand, may be. The problem lies in proving the intoxication was involuntary.

Your freedom and your rights matter; fight for them

It can be really easy to lie down and accept whatever punishment the court plans to give you if facing a serious charge like second-degree murder. You do not have to, though. You have the legal right to defend yourself, and that is not something you have to do alone. The freedom of every person, no matter the crime they are accused of committing -- even murder -- is worth fighting for. With assistance, you can find a defense strategy that will help you achieve the best outcome possible.

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