Murder Defense Attorneys in Indianapolis, IN
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If you or someone you know has been arrested for murder, you need to contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer immediately. At The Criminal Defense Team, we are ready to aggressively defend you against the charges you face. We are former prosecutors who know how the prosecution builds their cases and can help you challenge the evidence against you.
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Murder Charges in Indiana
In Indiana, murder is generally defined as the intentional killing of another person. There are two types of murder charges: first-degree and second-degree murder.
Murder in the first degree is the most serious charge and involves the deliberate and premeditated killing of another person. This violent crime also includes killings that occur during the commission of certain felonies, such as arson, burglary, rape, or kidnapping. First-degree murder is a felony and is punishable by a term of imprisonment of between 45 and 55 years, life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, or the death penalty.
Second-degree murder refers to intentional killings that do not meet the criteria for first-degree murder. This offense includes cases where the killing occurs as a result of sudden heat or in the heat of passion. Second-degree murder is also a felony but carries a lesser penalty than first-degree murder. The punishment for second-degree murder is a fixed term of imprisonment between 10 and 30 years.
The state must prove that the defendant killed the victim with malice aforethought to convict the defendant of murder. Malice aforethought may be established by showing that the defendant killed the victim in a willful, deliberate, and premeditated manner. If the defendant intentionally killed the victim, but did not have the specific intent to kill, the state may still charge the defendant with murder if it can be proven that the defendant knowingly engaged in conduct that created a substantial risk of death and the defendant knew the victim's death was possible. A death sentence may be imposed if the defendant was previously convicted of murder and the murder was committed during the commission of another felony.
Aggravating Circumstances for Murder Charges
Aggravating circumstances can include the defendant's prior criminal history, the defendant's motive for killing the victim, the manner in which the victim was killed, and the defendant's age. Prior criminal history can be used to enhance the defendant's sentence. For example, if the defendant was previously convicted of a violent felony, the state may seek a life sentence if the murder was committed during the commission of another felony. The state may also seek to use the defendant's prior criminal history to seek a death sentence.
Defenses to Murder Charges
When facing murder charges, individuals may employ various defenses to assert their innocence or mitigate their culpability. An attorney can evaluate the circumstances of the case and determine all or any available legal defenses to either get the entire case dismissed or the charges reduced.
Here are some common defenses that can be raised in murder cases:
- Self-Defense: This defense asserts that the accused acted to protect themselves from imminent harm or danger. It typically requires demonstrating that the use of force was reasonable and necessary under the circumstances.
- Defense of Others: Similar to self-defense, this defense argues that the accused used force to protect another person from immediate harm or danger.
- Lack of Intent: Murder charges often require proving the defendant's intent to kill or cause serious harm. The defense may argue that the killing was accidental or lacked the requisite intent, suggesting a lesser charge such as involuntary manslaughter or negligent homicide.
- Alibi: This defense aims to establish that the accused was not present at the crime scene when the murder took place, providing evidence, such as witnesses or documentation, to support their claim.
- Misidentification: The defense may argue that the accused was wrongfully identified as the perpetrator of the crime, casting doubt on the reliability or credibility of witness testimony or evidence.
- Provocation: This defense, often used in cases of voluntary manslaughter, asserts that the defendant was provoked and acted in the heat of passion, which diminished their culpability for the crime.
- Lack of Evidence: Challenging the prosecution's case by highlighting insufficient or unreliable evidence, inconsistencies, or violations of legal procedures.
- Insanity Defense: This defense asserts that the accused was suffering from a mental illness or defect at the time of the crime, which impaired their ability to understand the nature of their actions or distinguish right from wrong. It typically requires expert testimony and evidence of the defendant's mental state.
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Our team of Board-Certified* Criminal Trial Specialists are prepared to handle the most serious cases, including murder allegations. Let us defend you inside and outside the courtroom during the most difficult time in your life.
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