When someone intentionally causes the death of another person, he or she may be charged with second-degree murder, even if the murder was not premeditated. If you are faced with a second-degree murder charge, it is crucial to retain a skillful criminal defense attorney who will zealously advocate on your behalf. The Charlotte and Concord murder defense lawyers at the Olsinski Law Firm can provide you with a defense to help you fight to protect your rights.The North Carolina Law Defining Second-Degree Murder
Under North Carolina law, second-degree murder differs from first-degree murder in that it lacks the element of premeditation. In other words, the State does not need to prove that the defendant planned to end the life of his or her victim prior to committing the act that killed the victim to obtain a conviction. Instead, a person may be convicted of second-degree murder if he or she intentionally kills another person, but the murder was not planned. It is also considered second-degree murder if a person ends the life of another person during the commission of an inherently dangerous act or a failure to act that is done so recklessly and wantonly that it demonstrates a lack of respect for human life.
A person can also be charged with second-degree murder if he or she illegally provides opioids, cocaine, methamphetamines, or other specified drugs to another person, and the person dies as a result of ingesting the drugs. Additionally, a person can be charged with second-degree murder if he or she injures an unborn child, and the child is born alive but later dies of his or her injuries.
Second-degree murder is punished as either a Class B1 felony or a Class B2 felony, depending on the circumstances out of which the charges arose. A Class B1 felony is punishable by a maximum penalty of life imprisonment without parole, whereas a Class B2 felony is punishable by a maximum sentence of 484 months of imprisonment.What is Second Degree Murder?
When someone intentionally causes the death of another person, he or she may be charged with second-degree murder, even if the murder was not premeditated. If you are faced with a second-degree murder charge, it is crucial to retain a skillful criminal defense attorney who will zealously advocate on your behalf. The Charlotte and Concord murder defense lawyers at the Olsinski Law Firm can provide you with a defense to help you fight to protect your rights.
Second-degree murder is a class B1 or B2 felony in North Carolina, depending on the circumstances, so it is punishable by a significant amount of prison time, but not the death penalty. A person can be charged with second-degree murder if they kill another person with malice, even if they didn’t specifically intend to kill the person. A person can also be charged with second-degree murder if he or she provides certain drugs, including opiates, cocaine, or methamphetamine, to another person who later dies as a direct result of using those drugs.
So what is “malice” for the purposes of second-degree murder? Malice can be shown in several ways, including:
- Actual ill will, hatred, or spite.
- Doing something inherently dangerous in such a reckless manner that it shows a disregard for the value of human life.
- Intentionally causing death or intentionally inflicting serious bodily injury that results in death, without excuse or justification.
For example, leading police on a high speed chase that results in someone’s death can be enough to show malice for second-degree murder. Particularly bad child abuse that results in death, or intentionally using a deadly weapon against another person are other ways to show malice. It’s important to remember that the State doesn’t have to prove that someone planned or premeditated a killing to prove second-degree murder.
If the charge of second-degree murder is based on an inherently dangerous act done in a reckless manner, or if it is based on the illegal distribution of drugs to someone who dies from taking them, it is a class B2 felony. Any other charge of second-degree murder is a class B1 felony. A Class B1 felony is punishable by a maximum penalty of life imprisonment without parole, whereas a Class B2 felony is punishable by a maximum sentence of 484 months of imprisonment.
If domestic violence is involved, charges can be enhanced. If the defendant and the victim are current or former spouses, people who lived together as if married, people who were in a dating relationship, or people who had a child together, and the defendant had previously been convicted of certain other crimes against the same victim, the State may charge first-degree murder. Under those circumstances, there is a “rebuttable presumption” that the murder is a “willful, deliberate, and premeditated killing” and therefore a first-degree murder rather than second-degree.Defenses to a Second-Degree Murder Charge
There are several defenses that criminal attorneys may argue in defending a person charged with second-degree murder. Self-defense is a defense commonly asserted in second-degree murder cases. To prevail in an argument of self-defense, the defendant must establish that he or she was under a threat of harm but did not create the threatening situation. The force used in response to the threat must be proportionate to the perceived threat, and the actions taken in response to the threat must be close in time to the threat.
In other cases, the defendant may be able to argue that the victim’s death was caused by an accident rather than intentional acts. Additionally, a defendant may be able to argue that he or she was not involved in the victim's death in any capacity if he or she was inaccurately identified as the perpetrator of the crime. If you are charged with second-degree murder in Charlotte or Concord, it is critical to engage a skilled criminal defense attorney to investigate your available defenses and to set forth persuasive arguments on your behalf.Retain a Capable Criminal Lawyer Today
If you or someone you love is charged with second-degree murder, you need an experienced attorney to zealously advocate for you. The criminal defense attorneys at the Olsinski Law Firm can critically evaluate the evidence to find the weaknesses in the State’s case and help you achieve the best outcome possible under the unique facts and circumstances of the case. We regularly assist individuals charged with second-degree murder throughout Mecklenburg and Cabarrus Counties, including in Charlotte, Concord, Huntersville, Matthews, Cornelius, Mint Hill, Davidson, Pineville, Kannapolis, Harrisburg, Midland, and Mount Pleasant. We can be reached via our online form to schedule a confidential and free meeting to discuss your case. We can also be contacted at our Charlotte office at 704-405-2580 or at our Concord office at 704-918-4747.