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Washington, DC Homicide Lawyer

Homicide and manslaughter are some of the most serious criminal offenses and have the most severe personal and legal consequences.  In Washington, DC, the killing of another human being is broken up into three categories, first degree murder, second degree murder, and manslaughter.  Each offense is a felony under District of Columbia law.

First Degree Murder

First degree murder is the purposeful killing of another human being by a deliberate and premeditated malice or poison.  It also comprises the killing of another human being, not on purpose, but during or in attempt of arson, first degree sexual abuse, first degree cruelty to children, mayhem, robbery, kidnapping, housebreaking with a dangerous weapon, and a felony involving a controlled substance. 

If convicted you face a minimum of 30 years up to life without release.  If eligible for release, it cannot occur before 30 years have been served.  In order for a court to sentence a defendant for over 60 years the crime must meet certain requirements.  These include occurrence during a kidnapping, murder for hire, a drive-by or random killing, the victim was vulnerable as a result of age or mental defect, or the crime was especially heinous.

Second Degree Murder

Second degree murder is the killing of another human being with malice aforethought, but without premeditation.  If convicted, you may be sentenced to no more than life in prison.  In order for a court to sentence a defendant for over 40 years, the crime must meet certain requirements.  These include, but are not limited to, commission of murder during an attempt to escape authorities; murder on the basis of race, gender, sexual orientation, or other such factors; where the victim is less than 12 years of age, where the victim is in witness protection, or where the crime is especially heinous.


Manslaughter can either be voluntary or involuntary.  Voluntary manslaughter is the intentional killing of a human being, but under circumstances that mitigate malice.  Someone acting under the heat of passion, or kills someone with the mistaken, but good faith belief that self-defense is justified.  Involuntary manslaughter is the unintentional, accidental killing of a human being in the absence of circumstances of justification or excuse, or with conscious disregard of an extreme risk of death.  If convicted you face a prison sentence of up to 30 years.

Given the gravity of the offenses and the impact they can have on your life, if you are faced with such charges, you should contact an experienced Washington, DC homicide lawyer immediately to help protect you both personally and legally.

For a greater explanation of these laws you can read the District of Columbia Official Code.




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