Murder is one of the most serious criminal charges someone can face. You or your loved one may be facing extensive prison time, making it critical for you to seek legal representation as quickly as possible.
A Philadelphia, PA, felony murder defense attorney from our firm can ensure the legal system treats you fairly. Moreover, we will collect evidence on your behalf to refute the prosecution’s case against you. You can learn more about our firm’s support and how we will fight for you during a complimentary case assessment, available 24/7.
The Definition of Felony Murder
The term felony murder sounds like an intent to kill is required for this conviction. However, the prosecution only needs to prove you intended to commit an offense that resulted in another person’s death. Common criminal charges that can be linked to felony murder include:
- Rape or sexual assault
- Drug trafficking
If you were charged with one of these offenses and it resulted in another person’s death, our team could represent you. Our experienced defense lawyers will review the charges against you and determine if we can help you build a strong defense.
For a free legal consultation with a felony murder defense lawyer serving Philadelphia, call 215.515.3360
Felony Murder Penalties Can Upend Your Life
You could be charged with felony murder in Philadelphia even if you did not personally kill anyone. According to 25 Pa. C.S.A §2502, murder crimes and offense charges are broken down in the following way:
- First-degree murder: You can be charged with first-degree murder if the police believe you intentionally killed someone.
- Second-degree murder: This charge is made against those who allegedly caused the death of another, directly or indirectly, while committing another felony, such as armed robbery or arson.
- Third-degree murder: This is a “catch-all” category for situations not covered by first- and second-degree murder.
All of these “levels” are classified as felonies under Pennsylvania law. The penalties you could face if convicted of a felony are outlined in 18 Pa. C.S.A §1101-1102. While there could be exceptions, for example, if you are under 18 years of age, you will likely face charges that carry severe penalties, including:
Prison Time for Felony Murder
All murder charges carry lengthy prison sentences. Depending on the degree of murder charge you are facing, the prison sentence you may face may vary:
- A third-degree murder charge comes with a maximum of 40 years behind bars.
- Both second and first-degree murder charges may result in a life sentence.
- A first-degree murder charge may also result in placement on death row since Pennsylvania has a moratorium on the death penalty.
Spending decades in prison could destroy your relationships, career, and mental health. In addition, when you’re released, your criminal record may impede you from finding a job.
It is not an exaggeration to say that if you’re convicted, your felony charges will drastically change your life.
How Felony Convictions Can Affect Child Custody Decisions
If you are going through a divorce, have children, and are charged with a murder felony, you could lose parental rights and child custody. In some cases, defendants may retain the right to see their children if their crime wasn’t classified as violent.
However, a criminal offense resulting in death will likely be considered violent by a federal or district court. Our team of criminal defense attorneys has a long track record of building effective defenses for our clients.
We can’t promise a not-guilty verdict, but we can fight to raise reasonable doubt and have your charges dropped or reduced. This will go a long way in helping you garner a favorable child custody decision in family court.
Fines and Restitution
Those convicted of murder or attempted murder could face penalties with fines up to $50,000, the highest fine for criminal behavior in the state. Steep fines like these can:
- Deplete your life savings.
- Force you or your family into debt.
- Render your family unable to pay bills, put children through school, or support other dependent relatives.
As with fines, restitution can have a long-lasting, negative effect on your family’s financial stability. Restitution is a dollar amount imposed on a defendant convicted of harming another person or another person’s property.
Per 18 Pa. C.S.A. §1106, the amount you may have to pay depends entirely on the severity of the victim’s injuries and losses. The court will not take your financial situation into account.
Philadelphia Felony Murder Defense Lawyer 215.515.3360
Possible Strategies for a Mounting Felony Murder Defense
Once we understand the circumstances of your felony charges, we can determine our course of action. Common ways we can defend against a criminal conviction include:
- Negotiate a plea deal: Involuntary manslaughter is usually classified as a first-degree misdemeanor, not a felony. Misdemeanors typically carry much lighter penalties. Therefore, if we persuade a judge to let you plead guilty to involuntary manslaughter rather than murder, your punishment will be less severe.
- Ask for the charges to be dropped or reduced: With sufficient evidence, we can show signs of weakness in the prosecution’s case and convince them to reduce or even drop the charges against you.
- Prepare for trial: If the circumstances of your case prevent a pretrial plea, we can get ready to go to court. This generally involves locating witnesses to testify, submitting trial exhibits, and presenting other valuable evidence.
- Represent you at trial: Our defense lawyers will present oral arguments, file motions, question witnesses, and do everything possible to protect you in a court of law.
- File an appeal: If the trial does not end in the desired manner, or if we suspect the prosecution broke the law or regulation, we can appeal for a new trial.
In addition, if you choose to turn yourself in for a felony offense, our attorneys specialize in safe self-turn-ins to the police. We can help you tell the truth about your alleged crimes without worrying about mistreatment in the justice system.
Why Our Evidence Collection Method Stands Out From the Rest
Many criminal defense attorneys take the same route, collect all available evidence, and present it to the judge or jury. But our team makes an effort to get valuable evidence that can often perish in a case.
Police and businesses often destroy evidence like security camera footage and 911 calls after a certain amount of time has passed. If you get in touch with our attorneys as soon as you find out you’re being investigated, we’ll quickly get to the scene to collect evidence while it’s still intact.
If You Are Facing a Murder Charge in PA, Our Defense Attorneys Want To Help
Our criminal defense team represents clients who face many types of felony crimes, including felony murder. We start by providing all prospective clients with a consultation. This service:
- Will cost you nothing
- Can be done quickly and over the phone
- Will inform you about how our law firm can help
- Places you under no obligation; you do not have to hire us after a consultation
If you decide to retain our services, our team will work hard to dismiss or absolve you of the charges you face.
However, if this is not possible, we will fight to minimize the impact of the charges to get you home as swiftly as possible. If you have any questions, you can get in touch with us or visit our FAQ page to see if we answer your question.
We Will Take Steps To Understand the Felony Murder Charges Against You
One of our criminal defense lawyers’ first tasks will be to investigate the facts of your case. This way, we can:
- Collect evidence that may prove your innocence or cast doubt on the prosecution’s version of events.
- Understand what evidence the prosecution has against you and how they obtained it. We’ll make sure they did not violate your rights to gather evidence.
- Be in a better position to decide what legal action will be most effective in your case.
- Minimize jail time by getting you out on bail so you can defend yourself at home rather than in a cell.
Tasks Our Legal Team Can Perform in Your Felony Murder Case
We understand that the felony murder charges against you can be frightening and confusing. Our team is here for you in your hour of need. Our criminal defense attorneys and the entire team at our Philadelphia office are ready to:
- Provide free consultation.
- Explain your rights, options, and obligations.
- Ensure that you receive fair treatment, including a fair trial.
In addition, we make it a point to correspond frequently with our clients. We know how important it is for your peace of mind to know the status of your case and have access to your attorney. As such, you can depend on our office to:
- Keep you updated about changes and progress in your case.
- Answer all questions you have about every aspect of your case.
- Help you decide which legal options are best for you and your family.
Our Firm Will Evaluate Your Case for Free Now
The Law Offices of M.J. Snyder, LLC is a criminal defense law firm that helps clients in Philadelphia, PA, and the surrounding communities fight for their freedom and future after receiving a felony murder charge. Our experienced defense attorneys are ready to meet with you to review your case to see if we can represent you.
Call us or fill out the contact form on our website to learn more about what a defense attorney from our firm can do for your case and schedule a free case consultation.