Gillette Homicide Defense Lawyers
One of the most serious situations you can face is being charged with killing another human being. Any act of homicide is thoroughly investigated by the police. Even if the person died due to an accident or while a suspect was defending himself, the prosecution may seek the harshest penalties, which can include life in prison.
If you or someone you love was charged with homicide, you should not hesitate to contact a Gillette homicide defense lawyer at Steven Titus & Associates, P.C. Our trial attorneys have personally handled multiple homicides and violent crimes cases and successfully kept clients from facing serious penalties. We can utilize all of our knowledge, skill, and experience to advocate that your charges be reduced or dropped. To schedule a free case strategy session, call our firm at (307) 257-7800.
Under the state of Wyoming’s homicide laws, there are two charges you can face if accused of wrongfully killing someone: manslaughter and murder. Both come with serious punishments, but conviction for murder can result in life in prison or the death penalty. In either case, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you committed homicide based on Wyoming’s legal statutes.
While both manslaughter and murder involve the death of a person, there are several differences you should be aware of. In Wyoming, manslaughter refers to when a defendant “unlawfully kills any human being without malice, expressed or implied” and can fall into two categories:
Voluntary: Voluntary manslaughter means that a defendant meant to harm someone but did not intend to kill him, which can occur in a heat of passion.
Involuntary: Involuntary manslaughter occurs when a defendant kills someone through reckless behavior, such as through a fatal DUI crash.
Unlike manslaughter, a murder charge must include “malice aforethought” or premeditation, meaning the defendant planned on killing the victim. However, Wyoming also allows a prosecutor to pursue a murder charge if the defendant committed another felony crime and someone was killed during the crime, even if there was no malice aforethought.
Felony crimes that can lead to a murder charge include:
- Sexual assault
- Sexual abuse of a minor
- Resisting arrest
- Kidnapping or abusing a child under the age of 16 years old
Like manslaughter, murder can be charged in two categories, both with their own penalties. These are:
Second-Degree Murder: Second-degree murder is a lesser charge that a defendant can face if accused of killing someone with malice, but the murder was not planned.
First-Degree Murder: First-degree murder can be charged when a defendant kills someone with malice and planned it beforehand. It can also be charged if a defendant kills someone while committing one of the above felonies.
All of these charges come with lengthy prison sentences and can absolutely change the course of your life. If you are facing a trial, you need a strong defense strategy to protect your future.
Murder and manslaughter are the most serious felony charges you can face in Wyoming, but it is important to remember that each has its own unique penalties, which include:
- Manslaughter: Both voluntary and involuntary manslaughter have a maximum sentence of 20 years.
- Second-Degree Murder: Second-degree murder includes a minimum of 20 years in prison to a maximum of life in prison.
- First-Degree Murder: First-degree murder is given life in prison without parole or the death penalty. If the defendant was under the age of 18 when the crime occurred, then he or she will only receive life in prison.
It is also possible for a defendant to face “accessory to murder,” which occurs when a defendant assists someone else in covering up a murder or manslaughter. This can include lying to the police, disposing of a body, or destroying evidence. Accessory to murder is a wobbler, meaning it can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony. With a misdemeanor charge, a defendant can face up to six months in jail and/or a maximum fine of $750. For a felony charge, a defendant can be punished with up to three years in prison and/or a maximum fine of $3,000.
However, our trial attorneys have experience getting these charges reduced to a misdemeanor for previous clients and may be able to have these charges dropped altogether.
The state of Wyoming allows the death penalty for first-degree murder convictions, so long as the defendant was 18 years or older at the time of the crime. If you are convicted of first-degree murder, the court will schedule a presentence hearing where a judge or jury will review the case and determine if the death penalty is an option. The jury must completely agree that the death penalty is valid; otherwise, the defendant will be sentenced to life in prison. The jury must also consider “aggravating factors” as outlined by Wyoming’s legal codes.
But it is important to note that these cases are not clear-cut and, if you work with the team at Steven Titus & Associates, P.C., we will utilize all of our experience to prevent your case from getting this far. Not only can we argue that your charges should be reduced to a lesser offense, such as second-degree murder or manslaughter, but we can also fight it out in trial to prove you not guilty.
In order for the prosecution to convict you of murder or manslaughter, a district attorney must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you killed someone according to Wyoming’s laws. If they cannot prove that you had malice aforethought, then any murder charges against you should be reduced to manslaughter, significantly decreasing your potential punishment.
Also, Wyoming does have self-defense laws, which state that a person may use reasonable force to defend himself if threatened with violence. In order to use a self-defense argument, your trial attorney must show that you had no other option, meaning you could not run away, and that any other reasonable person would have done the same thing in your shoes. While this is a complicated defense strategy, it can prove incredibly useful.
In addition to self-defense, our lawyers can argue that:
- There is insufficient evidence to connect you with the victim’s death.
- It is a case of mistaken identity and someone else killed the victim.
- You did not plan the murder.
- There was no malice aforethought.
- The police illegally searched your home or property for evidence.
- You were in an impaired mental state, meaning you could not understand your actions in the moment.
If you or someone you love is facing murder or manslaughter charges in Campbell County, you should not hesitate to contact a Gillette criminal defense attorney at Steven Titus & Associates, P.C. The prosecution has already begun building a case against you, which means our team needs to immediately start working on your case. Given our previous experience successfully defending clients in homicide cases, we can provide you with the same thorough legal skill. Contact our office at (307) 257-7800 to begin building your defense strategy.
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