Any type of criminal charge is a threat to your future and your personal freedom. A conviction leaves a mark on your record and brings certain penalties that can include everything from paying a fine to spending time behind bars. While you should take any type of criminal allegation seriously, there are certain types of offenses that are more serious than others.
Charges involving an act of violence against another person are particularly grave, especially murder charges. While there are varying degrees of murder charges, first degree murder is especially serious. It may be helpful for to you gain a deeper understanding of this type of criminal charge and the penalties a person could face if convicted.
Factors that can impact a murder case
Each case is different, but the most common penalty for a first degree murder conviction is years or even a lifetime behind bars. There are certain factors that can enhance a murder allegation to a first degree charge. Some of the things that can determine the nature of a murder case include:
- The killing took place while committing another type of crime, such as a robbery.
- The victim was a law enforcement officer who was doing his or her job.
- The prosecution considers the murder to be particularly heinous.
- The killing involved the torture of the victim.
- The defendant laid in wait for the victim or planned ahead of time to commit the crime.
- The defendant has previous murder convictions on his or her record.
- The murder involved gang activity, explosives or bombs.
Murder cases are complex. It is often not clear exactly what happened, or the evidence may not clearly suggest what types of aggravating factors are present. It is possible to misinterpret evidence or misconstrue what happened.
Innocent until proven guilty
Just because a person is facing a first degree murder charge does not necessarily mean that he or she will end up behind bars. A person is entitled to a presumption of innocence, which means that person is innocent until proven guilty. A Maryland defendant has the right to prepare and present a strong defense against any type of murder charge.
If you are facing first degree murder charges, the rest of your life is at stake. You would be wise to take your case seriously, working with an experienced defense attorney from the earliest possible point in your case. With guidance, you can fight to preserve your constitutional rights and your future.