Michigan Murder/Homicide Charges
When you woke up the morning of the day you were charged with murder/homicide, you probably didn’t know you would be starting a new chapter in your life. But, here you are. Everything that happened before seems distant somehow and irrelevant for what you’re going through. Now, your life is divided into two distinct parts—before you were charged and after.
It’s no use spending time in the past, thinking of all the things you could’ve, should’ve, would’ve done. Instead, you want to stay calm, do some online research, and then hire yourself the absolute best criminal defense attorney in Michigan.
Of course, I think you should hire one of the attorneys at Weise Law. But, you probably don’t really know us yet. You don’t know how we’ve helped tons of clients achieve life-changing results. You don’t know how thorough our lawyers are to ensure you don’t get caught up in any legal snares or traps.
Please use the information we’re about to share with you as a way to get to know us. At Weise Law, we truly care about you and what’s best for you. That’s why we’re going to let you know exactly what you should do when you’re charged with murder/homicide. Then, we’ll share the answers to some of the top questions our clients facing Michigan murder/homicide charges ask.
If you feel like you’d really rather speak to someone directly, give us a call at (616) 931-7030. Or, if you’d rather send us an email, go here to contact us.
4 Things You Should Do When You’re Charged with Murder or Homicide
You’ve just been charged with murder or homicide. The panic starts to set in. What should I do? What shouldn’t I do? you wonder.
Don’t worry, Weise Law is here to help. Just follow our tips, and stay calm and collected.
1. Don’t talk.
Don’t talk to the police or anyone involved in this case. Anything you say can (and will) be used against you in court. You aren’t obligated to talk to the police. In fact, it is your legal right to have a lawyer present any time you’re going to speak with the police. This is a great idea because your lawyer will help prevent you from saying anything that might be misunderstood or twisted later.
Also, you shouldn’t consent to anything without first speaking with your attorney. This includes giving the police permission to search your home or car, collect a DNA sample from you, or discuss the case with you.
Don’t speak to your family or friends about the case. This is a tough one because of course you would want to speak openly with your loved ones and people you trust the most. However, if you confide in someone about what happened—even if you’re detailing your innocence—the police can call this person in for questioning.
Then, it’s possible this person could accidentally say something damaging, something that paints you in a bad light, to the police. You don’t want that to happen. Your friends and family don’t want that to happen.
Even if one of your friends asks you a nonchalant question about the case, just tell that person that you don’t really want to talk about it. You should absolutely do your best to guard your information about the case. So, just stay quiet.
2. Don’t post on social media.
Social media posts have become such an automatic part of our daily lives. Have a great dinner? Post it. Get in a car crash? Post it. But, the thing is, social media posts are becoming an increasingly important component in criminal investigations and charges.
You should never post anything about a situation that could result in criminal charges for someone. Even if you don’t think you’ll face criminal charges, you still need to refrain from posting. You never know how the investigation will turn out. And, furthermore, you don’t want a social media post you made to make the investigators think you’re the guilty party. So, just stay off social media for a while.
3. Hire an experienced criminal defense attorney.
Even if you’re only being questioned in a murder/homicide investigation, you still want to have an experienced criminal defense attorney. You want someone who thoroughly knows the Michigan laws about murder and homicide. You want someone who knows exactly what the police legally can and cannot do. But, you absolutely need someone passionate about you, your rights, and your case.
At Weise Law, we will diligently watch over you to make sure your rights aren’t violated, your words aren’t twisted, and your life isn’t wrecked by this crime. When you’re dealing with the police, we’re the attorneys you’ll want on your side. Give us a call today at (616) 931-7030 or click here to contact us.
4. Never resist arrest.
If an officer shows up to arrest you, it’s important for you to stay calm and courteous. Be polite. Don’t resist the arrest. As soon as you can, notify the arresting officer that you’re not going to answer any questions or discuss the case without your lawyer present.
There are certain things you can do without your lawyer present. You may tell the police your name, state your address, and give fingerprints. Otherwise, you need to wait for your lawyer to show up before you do or say anything else.
Then, as soon as you can, ask for you phone call so you can call your lawyer. Obviously, we hope you’ll call us. Our phone number is (616) 931-7030.
If you have the opportunity to post bond, do that as quickly as possible. The sooner you can get out of there, the sooner you can avoid any tricky police questions or accidental answers without your lawyer present.
5 Common Questions About Michigan Murder/Homicide Charges
Now that you know what you should do after you’ve been charged with murder or homicide, you probably have some questions. The following five questions are some of the most common questions that our clients facing murder or homicide charges ask. If your question isn’t answered below, please feel free to call us at (616) 931-7030 and ask. Or, if you’d rather, click here to ask us.
1. What is the legal definition of murder?
Murder is when a person specifically plans to kill another person. If you wished someone were dead and then that person died, that doesn’t make you guilty of murder. Even if you told a friend you wished the other person were dead before his or her death, you’re still not guilty of murder. However, if you wished someone were dead and made and executed a plan to have that person meet an untimely demise, that is murder.
2. What is the difference between murder and homicide?
If someone is murdered, it means another person has taken time to craft a plan that will ultimately lead to someone’s demise. The plan doesn’t have to be crafty. It doesn’t have to be well thought out. In fact, it can be a quick thought that instantly pops into the murder’s brain. Then, once the person acts on that thought, a murder has been committed.
Homicide is the event of killing a person, whether it’s intentional or not. In Michigan, there are several different types of homicide you could be charged with. Most homicide charges involve intent (like murder), but others include negligence. Negligence is when you have done something that results in someone else’s accident, injury, or death.
If you’ve been charged with murder or homicide, you need to understand your charges. Below, we’ll explain what the different charges mean and what punishments you can expect to receive if you’re convicted of that crime.
First Degree Murder
According to the Michigan penal code, first degree murder is defined as: “Murder perpetrated by means of poison, lying in wait, or any other willful, deliberate, and premeditated killing.” If you are charged with first degree murder, it means the police believe you planned and executed an event that intentionally led to someone’s death.
Although many people believe “premeditation” involves careful thought and considerable planning, the state of Michigan doesn’t agree. According to Michigan law, premeditation can happen in a matter of seconds.
If you are convicted of first degree murder, you could face life in prison without the possibility of parole. Luckily, Michigan does not allow for the death penalty for any conviction, including for first degree murder.
According to the Michigan penal code, felony murder is a special type of first degree murder that is defined as: “Murder committed in the perpetration of, or attempt to perpetrate, arson, criminal sexual conduct in the first, second, or third degree, child abuse in the first degree, a major controlled substance offense, robbery, carjacking, breaking and entering of a dwelling, home invasion in the first or second degree, larceny of any kind, extortion, kidnapping, vulnerable adult abuse in the first or second degree under section 145n, torture under section 85, aggravated stalking under section 411i, or unlawful imprisonment under section 349b.”
Basically, if you are charged with felony murder, the police believe you were committing a felony crime, and it resulted in a death. In this case, you don’t have to have planned for someone to die in order to face felony murder charges. All that matters is that you were committing a felony and someone died.
If you’re convicted of felony murder in Michigan, you could face life in prison without the possibility of parole. Fortunately, Michigan doesn’t allow for the death penalty for any conviction, so that won’t be a possibility.
Murder of a Peace Officer
According to the Michigan penal code, murder of a peace officer is a special type of first degree murder that is defined as: “A murder of a peace officer or a corrections officer committed while the peace officer or corrections officer is lawfully engaged in the performance of any of his or her duties as a peace officer or corrections officer, knowing that the peace officer or corrections officer is a peace officer or corrections officer engaged in the performance of his or her duty as a peace officer or corrections officer.”
You will probably be receiving this charge if the police believe your actions resulted in the death of a peace officer while the officer was on the job. According to the Michigan penal code, peace officers are defined as:
- A police or conservation officer of this state or a political subdivision of this state.
- A police or conservation officer of the United States.
- A police or conservation officer of another state or a political subdivision of another state
If you are convicted of the murder of a peace officer in Michigan, you could face life in prison without the possibility of parole. Fortunately, because the state of Michigan doesn’t allow for the death penalty for any conviction, you won’t have to worry about that potential punishment.
Second Degree Murder
According to the Michigan penal code, second degree murder is basically all other murders that aren’t classified as first degree murder. This includes any unplanned but intentional killing or any death caused by disregard for human life.
For example, in 2017, Michigan State Police trooper Mark Bessner was pursuing teenager Damon Grimes. Trooper Bessner was in his car, and Grimes was riding an ATV. Trooper Bessner fired his taser at Grimes, causing Grimes to crash and die.
Although Trooper Bessner didn’t plan to kill Damon Grimes, Bessner’s reckless actions caused Grimes’s death. Therefore, Trooper Bessner was charged with second degree murder.
If you are convicted of second degree murder, you could face life in prison. However, because second degree murder is a lesser charge than first degree murder, you could have the possibility of parole.
Delivery of a Controlled Substance Causing Death
According to the Michigan penal code, delivery of a controlled substance causing death is: “A person who delivers a schedule 1 or 2 controlled substance, other than marihuana, to another person in violation of section 7401 of the public health code, 1978 PA 368, MCL 333.7401, that is consumed by that person or any other person and that causes the death of that person or other person is guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment for life or any term of years.”
You will probably receive this charge if the police believe you gave someone an illegal drug that resulted in his or her death. The list of illegal drugs includes (but is not limited to):
- codeine, and
If you are convicted of delivery of a controlled substance causing death in Michigan, you could face life in prison without the possibility of parole. Fortunately, because the state of Michigan doesn’t allow for the death penalty for any conviction, you won’t have to worry about that potential punishment.
Voluntary manslaughter occurs when someone intentionally kills someone but hasn’t planned the attack. These charges are often for murders that are committed in the heat of the moment. It’s important to understand that the murderous action has to have taken place at that moment and not after.
For example, let’s say there’s a domestic dispute between a husband and wife. The husband is hitting the wife and, during the fight, she grabs a knife and kills her husband. In this case, yes, she meant to kill him. However, because it was in the midst of a fight, she might be charged with voluntary manslaughter instead of murder.
Now, let’s say the same husband and wife were fighting. He was hitting her, so she ran to the bedroom and locked herself in because she knew there was a gun in there. She got the gun ready, opened the door, and shot her husband. In this case, the wife would most likely receive first degree murder charges because she specifically ran to the bedroom to get the gun. Even though her plan was formulated in a split second, it was still a plan and thus, a first degree murder.
If you are facing voluntary manslaughter charges, it means the police believe you killed someone in the heat of the moment, without plans or previous thoughts of murder. A voluntary manslaughter conviction could mean:
- up to 15 years in prison,
- up to $7,500 in fines, or
Involuntary manslaughter occurs when someone dies as a result of personal criminal negligence. This charge is often used when an infant dies because of parental negligence or when a person is killed in an accident involving an intoxicated driver.
If you’re facing involuntary manslaughter charges, it means the police believe you behaved in a criminally reckless way that resulted in someone else’s death. An involuntary manslaughter conviction could mean:
- up to 15 years in prison,
- up to $7,500 in fines, or
3. What is criminally negligent homicide?
Criminally negligent homicide is another way people might refer to involuntary manslaughter. If the police believe you have unintentionally killed another person due to your reckless behavior or criminal negligence, you could be charged with criminally negligent homicide or involuntary manslaughter.
If you are convicted, you could face up to 15 years in prison, up to $7,500 in fines, or both.
Regardless of whether you are found innocent or guilty, you might be served with a new lawsuit. Even if you are cleared of your criminal charges, the other party could possibly file a civil suit. The civil suit version of criminally negligent homicide is called wrongful death. It’s not odd for someone to be found innocent of their criminal involuntary manslaughter charges and guilty of their wrongful death civil suit charges.
4. Can I claim self-defense and defeat my murder charges?
Yes, if you felt like you were defending yourself and that resulted in someone else’s death, you can absolutely claim self-defense. However, in order to successfully use self-defense as a justification for your actions, you need to prove:
- The perpetrator might have killed, maimed, or sexually assaulted you.
- You believed this course of action was your only option at the time.
- You used necessary and reasonable force to protect your life.
If you feel like you can confidently say that your actions were completely those of self-defense, you should tell your lawyer immediately. Then, you need to ask your lawyer if he or she has handled murder/homicide cases where the defendant acted in self-defense. If your lawyer hasn’t, you need to find a new lawyer who has experience arguing a self-defense case. Finding a lawyer who has already successfully argued self-defense in a murder case might mean the difference between an innocent and guilty verdict.
5. Do I need a lawyer to handle my Michigan murder/homicide charges?
I can tell you this—yes, you absolutely need a lawyer to handle your murder/homicide case. Even if you are completely innocent, you need a legal expert on your side to ensure your words don’t get twisted and your rights don’t get violated. This is exactly what a good lawyer does.
A good lawyer knows the Michigan law inside and out. He or she knows exactly what the police legally are and are not allowed to do. A good lawyer will also be passionate about your case.
But, a great lawyer will see what has been done, anticipate what will come next, prepare you for what’s to come, and be one step ahead of the prosecutor. A great lawyer is like a master at chess. At Weise Law, we consider ourselves great lawyers.
We want to hear all about what has happened to you. We know the shortcuts the police take—often at your expense— and we want to ensure your rights haven’t been violated. Then, if they have, you can be certain we’ll assert your rights and make sure you get the justice you deserve.
At Weise Law, we’re here for you—no matter whether you’ve just been charged with murder/homicide or are appealing a prior ruling our experienced legal team is here to help you get the justice you deserve. You can give us a call at (616) 931-7030 to speak with a member of our experienced legal team to discuss your situation. Or, if you’d rather send us an email, go here to contact us.