Being arrested for any crime is a scary and stressful experience, but being accused of murder is probably the most difficult charge any defendant can ever have to face. Not only are defendants frequently cut off by their friends, families, and communities — they also face incredibly harsh criminal penalties, including long prison sentences and massive restitution fines. Prosecutors handling these cases tend to be extremely aggressive in court, often pushing for the toughest penalties possible.
When the charges against you are this serious, your case demands dedicated legal support from a skilled and knowledgeable team of homicide defense attorneys. At Young, Marr, Mallis & Associates, our criminal defense lawyers have more than 20 years of experience representing thousands of clients. We proudly serve communities throughout Bucks County, including but not limited to Bensalem, Doylestown, Langhorne, New Hope, Quakertown, and Yardley.
Don’t wait until it’s already too late to take action. To set up a free and completely confidential legal consultation, call our law offices right away at (609) 755-3115 in New Jersey or (215) 701-6519 in Pennsylvania.
Types of Homicide Charges in Bucks County, PA
Pennsylvania law recognizes multiple charges which all fall under the broader category of homicide. Our attorneys handle a wide variety of charges on behalf of both adult and juvenile clients, and are prepared to formulate aggressive defense strategies against even highly complex felony allegations. Our legal team represents clients charged with the following criminal offenses:
- Voluntary Manslaughter
- Involuntary Manslaughter
- Causing Suicide
- Aiding Suicide
- Drug Delivery Resulting in Death
It’s important for the parents or guardians of juvenile defendants to understand that while juvenile offenses are typically handled by civil courts, even young teenagers can be tried in the adult criminal court system if they have been charged with murder.
The Difference Between Murder and Manslaughter in Pennsylvania
Many homicide accusations involve either murder or manslaughter. These terms are often confused with one another, but are actually very different. It is important for defendants to have a basic understanding of these differences, because each carries different criminal classifications and penalties.
Murder is found in Pennsylvania’s laws at 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. §2502, which divides the offense into three charges. First degree murder, the most serious form, is charged when the defendant allegedly deliberately kills an individual. Second degree murder is charged when the defendant was allegedly a perpetrator of or accomplice to another felony, such as a home burglary. Third degree murder, which is a first degree felony, includes all other cases.
Manslaughter is divided into two categories: voluntary and involuntary, located at 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. §2503 and §2504, respectively.
Voluntary manslaughter is charged when a defendant causes an individual’s death. What sets it apart from murder is that the defendant was “acting under a sudden and intense passion” at the time the killing allegedly took place, provoked either by the victim or another person.
By contrast, involuntary manslaughter is charged when the defendant accidentally causes the victim’s death by acting “in a reckless or grossly negligent manner.” In simplified terms, this means acting carelessly or without foresight for the victim’s safety.
Homicide Fines and Sentences: Does PA Use the Death Penalty?
Murder and manslaughter have different legal definitions, and in turn, different penalties in cases where the defendant is convicted. Third degree murder and voluntary manslaughter are first degree felonies, while involuntary manslaughter is a second degree felony.
Depending on the charges against you, you could be facing the following maximum fines and sentences:
- Second Degree Felony
- Fine — Up to $25,000
- Sentence — Up to 10 years in prison
- First Degree Felony
- Fine — Up to $25,000
- Sentence — Up to 20 years in prison
The penalties for other murder convictions are even harsher: second degree and first degree murder are both punishable by mandatory life imprisonment.
Pennsylvania long supported capital punishment, or the death penalty, as a possible penalty for a first degree murder conviction. But on February 13, 2015, Governor Tom Wolf ordered a moratorium on all executions in the state of Pennsylvania, effectively halting all scheduled executions.
Governor Wolf has stated the moratorium will continue until he has “received and reviewed the forthcoming report of the Pennsylvania Task Force and Advisory Commission on Capital Punishment… and there is an opportunity to address all concerns satisfactorily.” In other words, Pennsylvania has placed use of the death penalty on hold until further notice.
Contact Our Bucks County Homicide Lawyers Today
If you’ve been charged with homicide in Bucks County, the situation is critical. You need to take immediate action before the situation escalates.
Don’t wait another day to start exploring your legal options with an experienced and compassionate representative. To schedule your free and private case evaluation, call the murder lawyers of Young, Marr, Mallis & Associates at (609) 755-3115 in New Jersey or (215) 701-6519 in Pennsylvania right away.