Homicide charges are among the most serious criminal charges in North Carolina. Defined as killing another person without legal justification or excuse, the penalties for homicide are severe. Depending on the type of murder charge you’re facing, you could be sentenced to life in prison. With your freedom and future hanging in the balance, you’ll benefit from hiring a skilled criminal defense attorney.

Attorney Joel Hancock has extensive experience representing clients facing homicide charges. He has a proven record of successfully defending clients facing murder charges. He will immediately begin investigating the charges against you, gathering evidence, and negotiating aggressively with a prosecution to pursue the best outcome possible in your case.

Types of Homicide Charges in North Carolina

Facing criminal charges of any kind necessitates speaking to a criminal defense attorney. However, if you’ve been charged with manslaughter or murder, speaking to an attorney is even more important. Prosecutors in North Carolina take homicide charges extremely seriously and will work diligently to pursue the maximum penalty, which could include decades in prison or potentially the death penalty. 

The best criminal defense strategy will depend on your case’s unique facts and the specific type of homicide charge you are facing. North Carolina recognizes multiple types of homicide charges, ranging from first-degree murder as the most serious to vehicular manslaughter. If you are convicted of any type of homicide charge, you will likely face jail time if you’re convicted.

First-Degree Murder 

First-degree murder is the most serious type of homicide charge a person can face. It’s also the most difficult category of homicide for prosecutors to prove because they must demonstrate that the defendant intended to kill another person. First-degree murder includes killing another person by lying and waiting, poisoning, starving, imprisonment, torture, or any other type of deliberate, willful, and premeditated killing. 

Felony murder is also considered first-degree murder and occurs when another person is killed in the attempted or actual commission of a felony. For example, suppose a victim is killed during the commission of rape, arson, robbery, burglary, kidnapping, or any other felony. Even if the defendant did not kill the victim himself or herself, he or she may face felony murder charges for being involved in the crime that resulted in the victim’s death.

Second-Degree Murder Charges 

Second-degree murder charges are easier for prosecutors to prove than first-degree murder charges. Prosecutors do not have to prove that the killing was deliberate or premeditated. Second-degree murder can be the result of an inherently dangerous Act or failure to act. 

However, prosecutors need to prove that the action or failure to act was done in such a reckless manner it showed the defendant’s utter disregard for the value of human life. When prosecutors cannot prove a deliberate, intentional killing, they will frequently try to convict a defendant of second-degree murder. Defenders can also be charged with secondary murder if the unlawful distribution of opium, cocaine, methamphetamine, or their derivatives causes the victim’s death.

Voluntary Manslaughter 

Manslaughter charges are also considered homicide charges, but they do not involve malicious intent. Voluntary manslaughter is also called first-degree manslaughter. When a defendant allegedly kills another person in the heat of passion without prior intent to do so, he or she can face manslaughter charges.

Involuntary Manslaughter 

Involuntary manslaughter happens when an accidental death occurs that doesn’t involve the defendant acting in the heat of passion or having prior intent to kill the victim. The most common type of involuntary manslaughter charges involve a defendant killing another person in a drunk driving accident.

Vehicular Manslaughter

Vehicular manslaughter charges involve the unlawful killing of a victim with a vehicle through reckless or negligent driving. For example, If a driver is texting while driving and accidentally swerves into a pedestrian and kills them, they will likely face vehicular manslaughter charges. 

Prosecutors do not have to prove that the defendant was driving recklessly, disregarding other safety. Instead, they only have to prove negligence. Negligence occurs when drivers fail to use reasonable care to keep others on the road safe. Common examples of negligent driving that can lead to a victim’s death include talking or texting, eating, being distracted, and the failure to follow traffic safety laws.

Defenses to Homicide Charges in North Carolina

Your legal defense will depend on the specific facts in your case. If you’ve been charged with first-degree murder, your defense attorney may try to show that you did not intend to kill the victim. Perhaps you were caught in the heat of passion and acted impulsively. You may have been acting in self-defense or defense of others when the alleged homicide occurred. If you’ve been charged with manslaughter, your attorney may be able to argue that the prosecution can prove the necessary elements of the crime. For example, you may not have been negligently driving when the accident occurred. 

The more time your criminal defense attorney has to gather evidence, the likelier you’ll be able to avoid serious consequences like jail time. Attorney Joel Hancock has an in-depth understanding of how the criminal justice system works in North Carolina. He will use his experience and negotiation skills to immediately begin pursuing a dismissal of the charges against you or negotiating a plea deal. He will communicate with you at every step of the process so you can make informed decisions.

Contact a Homicide Attorney in North Carolina

If you or your loved one are facing homicide charges in North Carolina, you’ll benefit from reaching out to a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. If you’ve been arrested, you should invoke your Fifth Amendment right to remain silent until you speak to an attorney. Attorney Joel Hancock is prepared to provide you with an aggressive legal defense. Don’t hesitate to contact Hancock Law Firm to schedule a case evaluation to discuss your case and learn more about how we can fight for your rights.