The elements of murder and criminal defense

Many people are confused regarding the use of the terms homicide and murder. The fact is that all murders are homicides, but not all homicides are murders. This is why prosecutors are required to demonstrate that an individual’s actions meet the elements of murder as defined by Alabama law before a conviction can be secured. If any reasonable doubt exists regarding whether all of the elements were present in the alleged homicide, then a conviction for murder is not possible. This is just one reason why having criminal defense counsel is vital when someone is accused murder.

There are four main categories of murder in Alabama. The first requires prosecutors to show that the accused individual intended to kill another person, and did cause the death of that person or another person. Secondly, an individual can be accused of murder if his or her actions appear to be so reckless that they are indicative of an indifference to life.

Sometimes during the commission of many first degree felonies such as arson, rape and robbery, among others, one or more persons are killed. Those accused of being involved can be charged with murder even if they are not directly responsible for the deaths. Most people know this as the felony murder rule. Finally, an individual accused of arson can be charged with murder if a firefighter, volunteer firefighter or other person responsible for the safety of others dies.

Being charged with murder can be a frightening experience. Every individual is protected by the presumption of innocence, the right to review evidence that prosecutors intend to present to the court and to confront any witnesses in court. Enlisting the help of a criminal defense attorney as quickly as possible is critical to ensure that these rights are protected.

Source: FindLaw, “Alabama Code Title 13A. Criminal Code. Section 13A-6-2“, Accessed on Sept. 12, 2016