Murder after deliberation is one of the most serious crimes a person can be charged with within the State of Colorado. It is punishable by as much as life in prison.
Anytime a person has died, even if charges haven’t been filed yet, a homicide charge is possible, maybe even likely. Even if the death is the result of an accident or self-defense, a person can still end up in jail or prison for decades. This is why it is critical to have a murder or homicide defense lawyer fight for you.
At Savela Law Firm, we aggressively investigate the facts of our client’s case to develop a theory of innocence and build a strong defense.
Types of Murder Under Colorado Law
In Colorado, the intentional killing of another human being can be charged as either first-degree or second-degree murder. The difference between the offenses comes down to whether the killing occurred after deliberation.
Contact a Colorado criminal defense lawyer representing clients in Denver, CO today to schedule your initial consultation.
First-degree murder is the deliberate and premeditated killing of another person. If a prosecutor has probable cause to believe you had the time to think about or plan the killing of another person and made the choice to do so then you can be charged with first-degree murder under Colorado law.
In addition to an intentional, deliberate killing, Colorado has a felony murder law that allows prosecutors to charge first-degree murder when:
- A person dies during (or while attempting to flee from) the commission or attempted commission of arson, robbery, burglary, kidnapping, sexual assault, or serious sexual assault on a child, the perpetrator could be charged with first-degree murder.
- If a person dies because a perpetrator acted with extreme indifference to the value of human life and knowingly engaged in conduct that created a grave risk of death to that person.
- The unlawful distribution of a controlled substance to someone under 18 on school grounds results in the person’s death.
- If someone in a position of trust with a child under the age of 12 knowingly causes his or her death.
In Colorado, first-degree murder is the most serious criminal offense, punishable by life in prison.
Second-degree murder is different from first-degree murder in that it does not require deliberation. It occurs when a person knowingly causes the death of another person.
Second-degree murder is punishable by:
- 4 to 48 years in prison; and
- A fine of $3,000 to $1,000,000.
Other Types of Homicide
In addition to murder, when a person causes the death of somebody else, prosecutors can charge manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide, or vehicular homicide depending upon the circumstances and culpability.
Under Colorado law, manslaughter occurs when a person recklessly causes the death of another person, or when you intentionally cause or aid another person to commit suicide. This means that assisted suicide is a crime in Colorado, and will be charged as manslaughter.
Acting recklessly means that you act in a manner that involves substantial and unjustifiable risk of death, and although you are aware of the risk, you choose to engage in the action. Even if you do not specifically intend to cause someone’s death, if you knowingly engage in conduct that creates this risk, you could be charged with manslaughter. This crime is punishable by a fine of up to $500,000 and between 2 and 16 years in prison.
If you would like to schedule an initial consultation, contact a Colorado criminal defense attorney, we represent clients in Boulder, Colorado, and surrounding area. The Savela Law Firm, P.C. Give us a call at (720) 821-1001 or complete our inquiry form.
Criminally negligent homicide is charged whenever a person causes the death of another through criminal negligence. Criminal negligence is a failure to perceive a substantial and unjustifiable risk of death that will result from a particular action. Criminally negligent homicide is punishable by 1 to 8 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $100,000.
The distinction between criminally negligent homicide and manslaughter is that with manslaughter you are aware of “a substantial and unjustifiable risk of death” from your conduct, but you choose to ignore it. With criminally negligent homicide, the risk is unknown.
In many cases, criminally negligent homicide is a lesser-included offense of manslaughter, and juries will convict a defendant on this charge if a prosecutor cannot convince them that a defendant was aware of the risk of death from his conduct. In many cases, a skilled Boulder criminal defense attorney can work out a deal with a prosecutor to reduce a manslaughter charge to criminally negligent homicide.
Vehicular manslaughter is when another person dies when a person drives in a reckless manner, or while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. For the charge to stick, the person’s driving must be the proximate cause of the death.
Defenses to Murder & Homicide
There are several defenses to murder and lesser homicide charges under Colorado law. The specific defense used will depend on the facts of your case, and the criminal charge; however, self-defense, provocation, and elemental defenses are all available to fight murder and homicide charges.
If you have been charged with murder or homicide a skilled Denver murder defense attorney is essential. Get in touch with experienced Denver homicide defense attorney Jason Savela by calling (720) 821-1001.