An Overview of Murder Charges in Minnesota
When a person is charged with homicide, prosecutors will be required to select a specific charge. While all murder charges are extremely serious, there are different ‘degrees’ of this offense. In Minnesota, a person who is accused of killing another person may be charged with any of the following crimes:
First Degree Murder
Under Minnesota law ( Stat. § 609.185), first degree murder is the most serious type of homicide charge. A person may be charged with first degree murder if they committed a premeditated homicide, killed the victim while committing sexual assault, killed a police officer, or killed a child during an abuse incident. If convicted of first degree murder in Minnesota, a person may be sentenced to life in prison. Prosecutors almost invariably seek the maximum statutory punishment in first degree murder cases.
Second Degree Murder
Under Minnesota state law, ( Stat. § 609.185), second degree murder is defined as intentional killing. However, unlike first degree murder, certain aggravating, mallcious factors are not present in second degree murder cases. As an example, a non-premeditated, but intentional killing may be charged as a second degree murder. It is still an incredibly serious criminal offense that is punishable by up to a maximum of 40 years in prison.
Third Degree Murder
Minnesota defines third degree murder as a non-intentional, but still very serious murder offense ( Stat. § 609.185). To be clear, third degree murder is different than manslaughter. It is a more serious crime. In general, this offense involves some form of gross negligence. As an example, Minnesota prosecutors may charge a defendant who sells heroin to a drug addict who then overdoses with third degree murder. In Minnesota, third degree murder is punishable by up to 25 years in prison.
Finally, some Minnesota homicide cases are charged as manslaughter instead of as murder. In Minnesota, a person may be charged with either voluntary manslaughter, which is the more severe offense, or involuntary manslaughter, which is a less severe offense. Of course, manslaughter cases are still complicated. A conviction could result in a long prison sentence. If you or your loved one was charged with manslaughter in Minnesota, you need an experienced Twin Cities criminal defense lawyer.
Federal Murder Charges in Minnesota
For the most part, murder is a state-based offense. The vast majority of homicides that occur in the state of Minnesota are handled by prosecutors within Minnesota. That being said, there are certain circumstances in which a murder could be charged as a federal crime.
If the federal government has ‘jurisdiction’ over the case, it may bring the charges. As noted by the Cornell Law School Legal Information Institute, jurisdiction is simply a legal term that refers to the power to adjudicate a case. As an example, the federal government may take control of a murder case if the defendant crossed state lines in the course of committing the crime. Alternatively, the federal government can sometimes prosecute murders that are hate crimes.
Defenses to Murder Charges
There are a number of different legal defenses that can be raised in homicide cases. Our Minnesota murder defense attorneys will review the specific charges against you and help you explore every available defense. More specifically, some of the defenses are as follows:
- Self defense;
- Defense of another person; and
- Insanity/mental incapacity;
- Reasonable mistake.
How Our Minnesota Murder Defense Attorneys Can Help
If you or your loved one was charged with any type of homicide in Minnesota, it is imperative that contact an experienced murder defense lawyer immediately. Do not fall behind the prosecution. We have outside resources available, including private investigators, that can provide invaluable assistance on a murder case. At Arechigo & Stokka, we are committed to providing strong representation to defendants throughout the state of Minnesota. When you reach out to our law firm, you will get a Twin Cities murder defense attorney who will:
- Conduct a free, strictly confidential review of the murder charges;
- Answer your questions and concerns;
- Carefully investigate your case — obtaining exonerating evidence; and
- Build a comprehensive, sensible legal defense.
Murder charges must always be reviewed and defended on a case-by-case basis. If a person has been wrongly arrested for and charged with murder, a strong and aggressive legal defense is required. With so much at stake, false charges cannot be allowed to persist. A proactive defense is necessary. In other circumstances, it may be more appropriate to focus the defense strategy on reducing punishment. For example, it could be advisable to try to get murder charges reduced to manslaughter charges
Contact Our Minnesota Murder Defense Attorneys Today
At Arechigo & Stokka, our Minnesota murder defense lawyers have the skills and experience needed to defend clients against the most serious of criminal charges. If you or your loved one was arrested and charged with homicide, you need professional legal representation right away.
For a free, strictly confidential consultation, please do not hesitate to contact our law firm today. From our law office in Saint Paul, our criminal defense lawyers represent clients throughout the Twin Cities, including in Minneapolis, Bloomington, Mankato, St. Cloud, Duluth, and Rochester.