First Degree Murder


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If you committed a homicide, and you prepared for it and deliberately intended to do it, you can be charged with murder in the first degree.

This is Pennsylvania’s most grave crime, and you may face the death penalty or life in prison. You will need to retain an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately who will stand by you in this stressful time and provide a strong and effective defense.

Murder In The First Degree

Murder in the first degree is an intentional and premeditated killing. The unequivocal intent and preparation set it apart from all other kinds of murder.

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania defines this crime as killing by means of poison, or by lying in wait, or by any other kind of willful, deliberate and premeditated killing.

Prosecutors must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you meant to murder someone and that:

  • The killing was malicious.
  • There was intent to kill and not just injure.

This is the most serious of murder charges. If convicted, you face the death penalty, although Pennsylvania very seldom uses this punishment, or life in prison.

What To Do If You Are Charged

If you are charged, do not anger the arresting officer unnecessarily.

You will probably be held in jail overnight. At this stage, do not discuss what happened with the police or claim your innocence.

  • As with most criminal charges, you should not talk to the police or prosecutors without your attorney by your side. What you say can be taken out of context and used against you.

If the police question you, tell them you want a lawyer and politely refuse to answer their questions.

What Your Lawyer Can Do

Your attorney will carefully review every aspect of your case to determine if there is evidence for all you have been accused of.

  • Your lawyer will make every effort to discredit any evidence not in your favor.
  • Much of what your lawyer can do to help you will depend on the exact circumstances of your case.
  • If you did not kill someone, which must be proved by prosecutors beyond a reasonable doubt, your lawyer will work to find evidence and/or witnesses to prove it.
  • If you did not have malicious intent, which must be proved by prosecutors beyond a reasonable doubt, your lawyer will work to find evidence and/or witnesses to prove it.

Your lawyer will be looking at every avenue that can help you, so it’s important that you give them all of the information that can support your case.

How A Lawyer Will Help

When you are up against a murder of the first degree charge, even before your first hearing you will be facing a determined prosecutor. You need an attorney who will stand by you every step of the way, work hard to discredit any evidence – and work with you to determine your best course of action.

Pennsylvania Murder Of The First Degree Law

Murder of the first degree is described and defined under The Pennsylvania Criminal Code under Title 18, Chapter 25. Read the code here.

Questions? Contact us today.

Based on the evidence, Fienman Defense will try to show that the charges should be dismissed. If it’s in your best interest, we will work to negotiate a lesser sentence. Should the case go to trial, we will fight to present the strongest defense possible for your situation.