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MARYLAND
HOMICIDE LAWYER

In Maryland, homicide (the unlawful killing of another person) is generally categorized as either murder or manslaughter, and further classified into different categories based on the severity of the crime and the defendant's intent. These categories include first degree murder, second degree murder, voluntary manslaughter, and involuntary manslaughter. Both murder and homicide are felonies in Maryland.

MURDER VS. MANSLAUGHTER

Maryland Homicide Attorney

In Maryland, homicide (the unlawful killing of another person) is generally categorized as either murder or manslaughter, and further classified into different categories based on the severity of the crime and the defendant's intent. These categories include first degree murder, second degree murder, voluntary manslaughter, and involuntary manslaughter. Both murder and homicide are felonies in Maryland.

You may be subject to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole if you are found guilty of first degree murder in Maryland. It is critical to your defense to immediately hire a credible Maryland criminal defense lawyer upon your arrest.

Homicide

Maryland’s homicide law may be found in the Maryland Criminal Code in Title 2 as follows:

Maryland Criminal Code Title 2

Subtitle 1

Subtitle 2

Subtitle 3

Subtitle 4

Subtitle 5

General Provisions

Murder and Manslaughter

Murder; Trial and Sentencing

Review by Court of Appeals (Repealed)

Homicide by Motor Vehicle or Vessel While Impaired or Under the Influence

A credible, diligent Maryland homicide attorney can assess the prosecution’s case and analyze the evidence and charging documents to fight on your behalf, or help you negotiate a plea to reduce your charge to a lesser offense.  

 

The below discussion will outline the law of homicide in Maryland in order of severity.

Maryland Homicide Attorney

First Degree Murder

First degree murder is the most serious homicide offense in Maryland and carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. It is defined as the intentional killing of another person that is either:

-        Premeditated Willful, or Deliberate; or
 

-        Committed By Lying In Wait (Ambushing or Waiting For a Victim To Arrive); or
 

-        Committed By Poisoning

First degree murder is the most serious homicide offense in Maryland and carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. It is defined as the intentional killing of another person that is either:

-        Premeditated Willful, or Deliberate; or
 

-        Committed By Lying In Wait (Ambushing or Waiting For a Victim To Arrive); or
 

-        Committed By Poisoning

You may also be charged with first degree murder if the murder is committed during the commission of any of the following crimes:

-        First Degree Arson
 

-        Burning a Bar, Stable, Tobacco House, Warehouse, or Other Outbuilding
 

-        Burglary
 

-        Carjacking
 

-        Escape From a Correctional Facility
 

-        Kidnapping
 

-        Mayhem
 

-        Rape
 

-        Robbery
 

-        A Sexual Offense (1st Or 2nd Degree)
 

-        In The Use Of a Destructive Device

Murder of a police officer may result in a first degree murder charge.

You may also be charged with first degree murder if you ask another person, or plan with another person, to commit murder and any person dies as a result of your request or plan. First degree murder is defined in Maryland Criminal Code § 2-201.
 


First degree murder is one of the most serious felonies in Maryland. Hiring a Maryland homicide attorney is an important decision, which may very well determine your future. It is wise to rely on the training and expertise of a competent homicide lawyer in Maryland from the moment of your arrest in order to better understand the nature of your case.

First Degree Murder Sentencing

Under § 2-201 of Title 2 of the Maryland Code, a judge must sentence you to one of the following sentences upon conviction of first degree murder:

 

-        Life Imprisonment Without The Possibility Of Parole; or
 

-        Life Imprisonment.

Pursuant to § 2-203 and § 2-304 of Title 2 of the Maryland Code, the State must give written notice of its intention at least 30 days before trial, in order to seek life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. A separate sentencing proceeding must be held upon conviction of first degree murder to determine whether the defendant shall be sentenced to life imprisonment or life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.

A Maryland homicide attorney can argue the facts of your case in the best possible light in order to maintain the possibility of parole.

Attempted First Degree Murder

Attempted first degree murder, resulting from an unsuccessful first degree murder, is also a Maryland felony offense. Individuals who attempt to commit first degree murder face a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. Attempted first degree murder is defined under Maryland Criminal Code § 2-205.

Attempted First Degree Murder

Second Degree Murder

Second degree murder is considered to be less severe than first degree murder.  Second degree murder removes the planning requirements of first degree murder. Any murder that is not first degree murder, as provided in § 2-201, is unlawful.

 

 

Second degree murder is an intent based crime, which requires malice aforethought, meaning the defendant intended to unlawfully cause the victim’s death or serious bodily harm. Second degree murder carries a maximum penalty of imprisonment of 40 years and is defined under Maryland Criminal Code

§ 2-204.

Second degree murder is often sought as a lesser offense alternative to first degree murder. A Maryland homicide lawyer can negotiate with the State on your behalf to secure a plea agreement to reduce your charge to second degree murder, or argue that you have been improperly charged in court.

Attempted Second Degree Murder

Attempted second degree murder, resulting from an unsuccessful second degree murder, is also a Maryland felony offense. Individuals who attempt to commit second degree murder face imprisonment up to 30 years. Attempted second degree murder is defined in Maryland Criminal Code § 2-206.

A detail-oriented Maryland homicide attorney can analyze the facts of your case in addition to your testimony with regard to your intent in order to successfully plea down your case from attempted second degree murder to aggravated assault or argue to secure a lesser conviction in court. Although aggravated assault is also a felony offense, it is generally treated less severely at sentencing.

Manslaughter

In the absence of premeditation or malice aforethought, a person may still be charged with manslaughter for a killing. The maximum penalty for manslaughter is imprisonment for up to 10 years, or a jail term in a local facility of up to 2 years and/or a $500.00 fine. Manslaughter is a felony, defined under Maryland Criminal Code § 2-207.

Voluntary Manslaughter

Voluntary manslaughter is a lesser offense to murder that involves the intentional killing of another person, but without premeditation and under certain mitigating circumstances, such as heat of passion or sudden provocation. A second degree murder charge may be argued down to voluntary manslaughter by a qualified Maryland homicide lawyer by proving that that there was adequate provocation to the accused and that there was no time to “cool off”.

It is important to note that catching your spouse in the act of cheating, including walking in on a sexual act, is not considered adequate provocation in Maryland for the purposes of mitigating murder down to voluntary manslaughter. This has been set out in Maryland Criminal Code § 2-207(b).

Furthermore, your discovery, perception, or belief about another person’s race, color, national origin, sex, gender identity, or sexual orientation, is not considered adequate provocation in Maryland for the purposes of mitigating murder down to voluntary manslaughter.  It does not matter whether your discovery, perception, or belief is accurate.

Involuntary Manslaughter

Involuntary manslaughter is the unintentional killing of another person, usually resulting from unlawful, reckless or negligent conduct, such as the improper or unlawful operation of a vehicle or machinery. It is otherwise termed as criminally negligent homicide. It is the least severe form of homicide, but it is still a very serious offense with serious consequences and is often tied to tragedy, such as in instances of vehicular homicide.

A Maryland manslaughter lawyer can argue the facts of your case to best protect you from possible harsh sentencing, which may be amplified by the number of injured parties, or to avoid conviction based upon the specific details of your case.

Voluntary Manslaughter
Involuntary Manslaughter

Sentencing Guidelines

Homicide

In addition to the laws described above, Maryland has sentencing guidelines, which impact the penalties a defendant can receive in homicide cases. Sentencing guidelines aim to promote consistency and fairness in sentencing across similar cases by considering factors such as the severity of the current offense, the defendant's criminal history, and any aggravating or mitigating circumstances present in the case.

It is important to note that, although it is influential, the MSGM does not have the force of law and is not binding. In the 2023 trial of Markell Lewis (25 yrs), who was found guilty of manslaughter in the shooting of Danny Kelly, Jr. (31 yrs) during a Christmas Eve road rage incident, Judge Cotton deviated from the state sentencing guidelines, giving Lewis an 80-year sentence. This decision, which was 70 years above the recommended guidelines, showcases the discretion judges possess in sentencing.

A Maryland homicide lawyer can argue the facts of your case to secure a sentence at the lower end of the applicable sentencing guidelines, or potentially below the minimum sentence.

Hire A Maryland Homicide Attorney

The above article provides an overview of the law of homicide in the State of Maryland, focusing on Title 2 of the Maryland Code and Court Rules. It also explores the impact of sentencing guidelines on the penalties a defendant can receive in homicide cases. It is not legal advice. It is critical to consult an attorney if you have been arrested.

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500 Terry Francine Street
Silver Spring, MD 20910

 

Email: JDJames@JDJamesAssociates.com

 

Office Phone: 844-455-2637

 

Fax: 301-576-7021

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