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Murder and Manslaughter in New York State

In the State of New York, the statutes penalizing the taking of a human life are under murder, manslaughter, and criminally negligent homicide statutes contained in Article 125 of the Penal Code. “Homicide” is the broad term that covers both murder and manslaughter cases. It is defined as “conduct which causes the death of a person or unborn child with which a female has been pregnant for more than 24 weeks ... “ Different criminal conduct results in different criminal penalties. Below are the most common forms of murder and manslaughter.

First-Degree Murder

There are multiple ways to commit first-degree murder. This is the most serious offense and consists of the following elements.

  • A person more than 18 years old;
  • Intending to cause the death of another person;
  • Causes the death of the other person and either:
    • The victim is an on-duty police officer, peace officer, firefighter, emergency medical technician, ambulance driver, physician, paramedic, or registered nurse acting as an emergency responder; or an employee of a state correctional institution and the actor knew or should have known that; or
    • The actor is serving 15 years or more in prison at the time of the killing; or
    • Killing to prevent witness testimony or in response to testimony provided; or
    • Killing for hire; or
    • The victim is killed during the commission of certain other crimes, and is not a party to those crimes; or
    • the actor has a prior conviction for murder; or
    • torture was inflicted on the victim prior to death; or
    • the victim was a judge; or
    • the death occurred during an act of terrorism.

OR

  • A person more than 18 years old;
  • Intending to cause the death of another person;
  • Causes the death of the other person; and
  • The victim was 13 or younger, and the victim was treated especially cruelly and in a wanton manner.

Aggravated Murder

Aggravated murder includes many of the same courses of conduct as first-degree murder, along with an additional course of conduct.

Murder in the Second Degree

There are a few different ways one might commit second-degree murder. These include:

  • When one intends to cause the death of another and causes the death of that person or a third party;
  • When one acts under circumstances evincing a depraved indifference to human life and recklessly engages in conduct which creates a grave risk of death to another person and thereby causes the death of another person;
  • When a death occurs during the commission of certain felonies, and the victim was not a part of the group committing the felony;
  • When one 18 years old or more acts under circumstances evincing a depraved indifference to human life and recklessly engages in conduct which creates a grave risk of serious physical injury or death to another person less than 11 years of age and thereby causes the death of another person; or
  • Intentionally kills another during the commission of a criminal sexual act, where the victim is less than 14.

Aggravated Manslaughter in the First Degree

Aggravated manslaughter in the first degree is limited to cases where the victim is a police officer or peace officer acting in their official duties, where the actor knew or should have known the victim was acting in their official capacity. Additionally, the actor must either:

  • Act with the intent to injure the officer, causing their death; or
  • Intended to cause their death, however, the actor was under the influence of extreme emotional disturbance.

Aggravated Manslaughter in the Second Degree

As with aggravated manslaughter in the first degree, aggravated manslaughter in the second degree is limited to cases where the victim is a police officer or a peace officer acting in their official duties, where the actor knew or should have known this. When an actor causes the death of a peace or police officer based on their reckless conduct, this is second-degree aggravated manslaughter.

Manslaughter in the First Degree

Manslaughter is less serious than murder charges. This is because the conduct, while still resulting in the death of another, is less serious on its face. There are different types of conduct that result in charges of first-degree manslaughter. They include:

  • Causing the death of someone by acting with the intent to cause serious physical injury;
  • Intending to cause another's death, and causing their death, while under the influence of extreme emotional disturbance;
  • Intending to cause any physical injury to a person 10 years old or younger, engaging in reckless conduct which creates a grave risk of serious physical injury, which causes death.

Manslaughter in the Second Degree

Manslaughter in the second degree occurs when someone causes the death of another based on reckless conduct or when they intentionally aid another in committing suicide.

Vehicular Manslaughter

Vehicular manslaughter occurs when someone is driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs and causes the death of another. This includes driving cars, trucks, and snowmobiles. Whether the charge is first- or second-degree vehicular manslaughter or aggravated vehicular homicide, depends on how intoxicated the person was, whether their license was suspended or revoked, whether they have been previously convicted of a DWI, whether more than one person was killed or injured; or if a child was killed, and was a passenger in the driver's vehicle.

Criminally Negligent Homicide

If one is engaging in criminal negligence, and causes the death of another, they are guilty of criminally negligent homicide.

If You Are Facing Murder or Manslaughter Charges

If you or a loved one is facing murder or manslaughter charges, having an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side is essential. Contact the law office of Frost & Kavanaugh. We are experienced trial lawyers who regularly handle serious felony charges. We also have extensive experience litigating pretrial issues. We know that cases can be won (or lost) based on pretrial litigation.

Consequently, we carefully review our cases to ensure police complied with the constitutional mandates guaranteed by the New York and United States Constitutions. Where evidence is illegally obtained, we fight to have it suppressed. Our firm is committed to fighting for your rights and fighting for you.

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Choosing the right lawyer makes a difference. Call us and we’ll show you how. We are trial lawyers!

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