Violent Crimes: Murder

Murder is the most severe charge an individual can face. The stakes are never higher; indeed, a murder defense can truly be a fight for the life of the accused. In North Carolina, the court may to impose the death penalty for First Degree Murder. The mandatory minimum of a murder conviction often carries a life sentence in prison.

At Arnold & Smith, PLLC, our team of experienced defense attorneys will work with you to understand your side of the story. The firm will develop a powerful defense on your behalf, and your attorney will aggressively fight for your freedom. If you or a loved one has been charged with any murder offense, do not hesitate and Contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC to speak with a passionate attorney who will develop a powerful defense and intensely advocate on your behalf.

For a better understanding of the various murder charges available to the State, feel free to review the following:

First Degree Murder

In North Carolina, First Degree Murder charges generally require malice aforethought and premeditation. The murder statute, N.C. General Statute § 14-17, provides for a charge of First Degree murder for killings as result of poison, lying in wait, imprisonment, starving, torture, or any other willful killing that evidences malice.

A conviction for First Degree Murder carries a penalty of death or life in prison.

Second Degree Murder

Second Degree Murder is a “catch-all” for all other acts of intentional murder. In other words, if the State cannot prove one element of First Degree Murder, they will likely seek a conviction for Second Degree Murder.

North Carolina may also charge anyone who provides drugs to another individual with Second Degree Murder if the ingestion of those drugs results in death. The Statute reads as follows:

All other kinds of murder, including that which shall be proximately caused by the unlawful distribution of opium or any synthetic or natural salt, compound, derivative, or preparation of opium, or cocaine or other substance described in G.S. 90 90(1)d., or methamphetamine, when the ingestion of such substance causes the death of the user, shall be deemed murder in the second degree, and any person who commits such murder shall be punished as a Class B2 felon. N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-17.
Felony Murder Rule

The Felony Murder Rule is a harsh legal doctrine which applies if a death occurs during the commission of certain other felonies. The Rule places murder liability upon any participant of the underlying felony, regardless of whether the killing was intentional. For example, if a group decides to rob a bank, and during the process an officer or security guard fires a gun at the robbers but accidentally kills an innocent bystander, the entire group of robbers (even a getaway driver outside the bank) could be charged with murder.

Moreover, the Felony Murder Rule generally provides First Degree Murder charges for the accused. As result, a conviction under this doctrine could result in life in prison. The Rule applies if death occurs during the commission, or even attempted commission, of any of the following offenses: rape or a sex offense, robbery, kidnapping, burglary, or any other felony committed or attempted with the use of a deadly weapon.

Fetal Homicide Law

In 2011, North Carolina lawmakers enacted the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, often referred to as “Ethen’s Law.” Basically, this law recognizes the unborn child of a pregnant mother as a second victim to any criminal offense which results in serious injury or death to the unborn child.

N.C. General Statute 14-23.1 does not require that the accused have notice that the mother was pregnant with a child. The statutory penalties apply to murder, voluntary manslaughter, involuntary manslaughter, assault, or battery, which result in the death of an unborn child. The statute provides punishment of up to life in prison.

Contact Arnold & Smith, Pllc Today

Facing any murder charge is the ultimate test of your emotions, perseverance, and determination. If you or a loved one is a suspect or has been charged with murder, act now and contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC. Our attorneys will stick by your side from initial investigation on. We will provide you and your family with legal counsel during the investigation, pre-trial stages, trial, sentencing, and on appeal. But don’t hesitate to seek counsel--the sooner you begin developing your defense, the better your chances of success.

Charlotte Criminal Lawyer Blog - Murder/Homicide