First Degree Murder in Louisiana
Are you facing first degree murder in Louisiana? A first degree murder charge carries the harshest penalty in Louisiana: the death penalty.
What is first degree murder?
First degree murder entails the intent to kill someone. It usually includes careful planning before the murder takes place.
Conversely, second degree murder involves the unplanned killing of someone, and a third degree murder charge usually amounts to manslaughter. Regardless of the murder charges, contact an attorney sooner rather than later.
This article will highlight a first degree murder charge in greater depth. Let’s dive in.
First Degree Murder Sentencing
In addition to the death penalty, you could face life in prison. First degree murder carries the maximum sentence due to the intent behind the murder. These two sentences are the only two options, with no room for lighter sentences.
Also, the same sentences apply statewide, regardless of the court’s location. For instance, a Baton Rogue court will uphold the same sentences as a Livingston court or an Ascension court.
If you get a life sentence, it will come with no parole or probation. Additionally, the court cannot suspend the sentence.
The difference between first and second degree murder is that first degree murder comes with a death sentence by default. In Louisiana, a second degree murder comes with an automatic life sentence without parole.
Several factors determine whether you get a life sentence or the death penalty.
- The nature of the murder
- The district attorney’s discretion
When the state charges someone with first degree murder, the sole intention is the death penalty, especially if the murder was particularly heinous. That said, the prosecutor may consider a life sentence if you plead guilty.
If you plead not guilty, there’s a higher chance of receiving a death sentence. Only an attorney can advise whether to plead guilty or not guilty to the crime.
First Degree Murder Scenarios
In many cases, the perpetrator will commit other offenses in addition to the murder. For instance, a first degree murder charge is applicable if the murder includes:
- Cruelty to children
Also, first degree murder charges are appropriate in cases where the offender murdered a policeman, fireman, or any other first responder. Moreover, the charge carries additional weight if you murdered a first responder during the commission of his or her duty.
Further, you’ll face a first degree murder conviction if you murder a child who was less than 12 years old or an elderly person over 65. When it comes to child murders, the district attorney is more likely to prosecute the case aggressively, especially if the case receives public attention.
Plus, first degree murder applies if an offender murdered a victim on behalf of another. In other cases, killers will snuff out a victim that will testify against a defendant.
Further, defendants who intend to kill someone during an illegal drug transaction can face capital murder charges. Illegal drugs entail any drug listed under the Uniform Controlled Dangerous Substances Act.
Also, an offender who violates a restraining order and murders the victim will face a first degree murder charge. This type of charge is all too common in domestic violence cases between spouses.
The aggravating factors behind all of these scenarios can upgrade a charge to first degree murder status. Many of these cases can begin as second degree murder, but the circumstances behind the murder can trigger a first degree murder charge.
The Importance of an Attorney
When it comes to a first degree murder charge, a private attorney is paramount. Avoid public defenders at all costs. Public defenders juggle many cases and may give you the wrong advice.
- Example: All too often, public defenders are quick to advise their clients to plead guilty. In many cases, the defendant should have fought the charges in the courtroom.
Public defenders may not have enough courtroom experience to combat the charges, which is why they often advise their clients to plead guilty right away. In other cases, public offenders want to end cases quickly with a guilty plea.
In addition, innocent defendants will plead guilty to avoid a possible death sentence. It happens more often than many realize. Far too many innocent people have been convicted of first degree murder due to the following factors:
- Police coercion
- Overzealous prosecution
- Faulty eyewitness testimony
Additionally, an alarming number of people across the nation on death row are potentially innocent. In Louisiana, most death sentences are overturned. That’s why an attorney is vital, as they will safeguard your rights and ensure you get a fair trial.
Get the Best Legal Defense Possible
Since homicide is a weighty charge, spare no expense when it comes to legal representation. Don’t hire attorneys offering cheap services, as they may not have enough experience handling murder cases.
Instead, find an attorney who has direct experience in first degree murder cases. A seasoned attorney can craft a viable defense and conduct an independent investigation that supports your story.
Steps to Take After an Arrest
Above all, invoke your right to remain silent after an arrest. The state can use anything you say and do against during your trial.
Then, contact an attorney immediately. Don’t cooperate with investigators, as they’re not your allies. If you must sit down for an interview, consult your lawyer first.
First Degree in Murder Louisiana
First degree murder in Louisiana carries two outcomes: a life sentence or a death sentence. The main outcome of a first degree murder case is usually the death penalty.
Regardless of your circumstance, you need quality legal representation to mount a strong defense. Without an attorney, you could get the worst possible outcome.
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