First-degree murder is probably the most serious charge that a person can face, and a person convicted of first-degree murder will be permanently deprived of their rights. A first-degree murder charge is not indefensible, however, and it is essential for anyone charged with first-degree murder to engage a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney to provide them with the best chance of a successful outcome under the facts of the case. At the Olsinski Law Firm, our Charlotte and Concord murder defense attorneys can analyze the circumstances surrounding your charges and employ our ample skills and experience to present persuasive arguments in your defense. We take pride in zealously advocating on behalf of our clients.First-Degree Murder Under North Carolina Law
In North Carolina, first-degree murder is defined as murder that is premeditated, willful, or deliberate. Killings committed by chemical or biological weapons, poison, torture, or lying in wait are specific examples of acts that constitute first-degree murder. Additionally, any murder that occurs during the commission or attempted commission of a felony, such as rape, arson, robbery, or kidnapping, is deemed first-degree murder. In cases in which the person killed was the spouse, former spouse, or romantic partner of the person charged with murder, and the act that ended the person's life was committed with malice, there is a rebuttable presumption that the murder was willful and deliberate. The crime will be charged as first-degree murder if the defendant was previously convicted of a domestic violence crime, a violation of a domestic violence protective order, or stalking or threatening the victim.Penalties for a First-Degree Murder Conviction
In North Carolina, first-degree murder is a Class A felony. A conviction of first-degree murder is punishable by life in prison or the death penalty. There is an exception for people who are under 18 who commit first-degree murder, however, and they may receive a lesser sentence.The State’s Burden in Proving a First-Degree Murder Charge
To obtain a conviction of first-degree murder under North Carolina law, the State must prove each element of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. In other words, the State must produce evidence that leaves no doubt in the mind of a reasonable person that the defendant is guilty of first-degree murder. This means that the State must prove that the defendant possessed the state of mind defined by the statute and perpetrated the murder in a deliberate, willful, or premeditated manner. Therefore, the State is required to prove that the defendant specifically intended to kill the victim, and the defendant planned and deliberated over his or her acts prior to committing the murder. If the State is unable to prove any of these elements, the State cannot prove first-degree murder.
While the State is obligated to prove the defendant's guilt, the defendant in a criminal case does not have any burden and is not required to introduce any evidence. In some cases, however, it may make sense for a person charged with first-degree murder to set forth affirmative defenses, such as self-defense. An experienced criminal defense lawyer can advise you regarding the most appropriate manner to proceed in your case.Meet with a Knowledgeable Murder Defense Attorney in Charlotte or Concord
A first-degree murder conviction will result in the loss of your liberties and potentially the loss of your life. At the Olsinski Law Firm, our assertive criminal defense attorneys will work diligently to help you seek a favorable outcome. We assist people charged with homicide crimes in Mecklenburg and Cabarrus Counties, including in Charlotte, Concord, Huntersville, Matthews, Cornelius, Mint Hill, Davidson, Pineville, Kannapolis, Harrisburg, Midland, and Mount Pleasant. We have offices in Concord and Charlotte, where we are available to meet you for a free and confidential consultation. You can reach us at 704-405-2580 to set up a conference at our Charlotte office or at 704-918-4747 to set up a conference at our Concord office. We can also be contacted through our form online.