Maryland Homicide Law

< MD Criminal Law

Maryland Homicide Attorneys

Murder and manslaughter are extremely serious charges under Maryland State Law and are classified as felonies. The consequences for a charge of first-degree murder can include capital punishment or life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. Given the gravity of these potential penalties, it is crucial to immediately seek the assistance of a qualified Maryland criminal attorney as soon as you are arrested. En Español.

Maryland’s Criminal Code Title 2 covers all types of homicide under five different subtitles:

General Provisions: This section defines terms used within the Maryland Criminal Code, eliminates the “year and a day” rule that previously made prosecuting suspected murderers difficult after a certain period of time, and includes provisions regarding the homicide or manslaughter of a viable fetus.

Murder and Manslaughter: This subtitle contains laws regarding murder and manslaughter, including attempted murder and vehicular manslaughter.

Murder: Trial and Sentencing: This section covers the appeals process for the intent to seek the death penalty, sentencing for first-degree murder, and rules regarding sentencing and verdicts.

Review By Court of Appeals: This subsection allows for automatic review of certain cases.

Homicide by Motor Vehicle or Vessel While Impaired: This subtitle addresses vehicular homicides committed while the accused is impaired or under the influence.

A skilled homicide attorney in Maryland can assist in negotiating down serious first-degree murder charges and thoroughly examine the evidence for any inconsistencies or inaccuracies in the prosecution’s case.

First-degree murder, as defined under Maryland Criminal Code § 2-201, refers to a murder that meets specific criteria. These include premeditation, willfulness, deliberation, murder by poisoning, or murder committed while waiting for the victim to arrive (“lying in wait”). The Maryland Criminal Code also considers murders that occur during the commission of another serious crime as first-degree murders under certain circumstances. Examples of these crimes include burglary, kidnapping, rape, robbery, and more. It is essential to consult a Maryland homicide attorney to understand the charges, especially when facing any felony murder charges in the state. Even if you do not consider the murder premeditated due to a lack of planning, the State may still find you guilty of first-degree murder based on other criteria.

In cases where a homicide is unsuccessful, attempted first-degree murder charges can be filed under Maryland Criminal Code § 2-205. Attempted first-degree murder is still a felony, but the death penalty cannot be sought. The maximum penalty for attempted first-degree murder is life imprisonment.

The State of Maryland imposes harsh penalties for those convicted of first-degree murder under § 2-201. A judge must hand down one of three sentences upon conviction: death, life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, or life imprisonment. The death penalty is determined in a separate sentencing immediately following a guilty verdict for first-degree murder. The prosecution must submit a request to seek the death penalty 30 days before the trial begins.

Second-degree murder, covered under Maryland Criminal Code § 2-204, encompasses any intentional murder, even if it was not premeditated, willful, or deliberate. The key distinction between second-degree murder and manslaughter lies in the intent. Second-degree murder requires intentional killing, while manslaughter does not. The conviction for second-degree murder carries a maximum prison sentence of up to 30 years.

Attempted second-degree murder carries the same maximum potential sentence as second-degree murder itself, as stated in § 2-206 of the Maryland Criminal Code. It is essential to differentiate attempted second-degree murder from aggravated assault, as the state often confuses the two. Seeking the assistance of a qualified Maryland homicide lawyer can help argue against an attempted murder charge and instead assert that the alleged crime was aggravated assault, which may result in a less severe sentence.

Manslaughter, even without malice aforethought, can lead to a felony conviction in Maryland. For instance, improper operation of large machinery resulting in the accidental death of a passerby could be considered manslaughter. A skilled Maryland homicide lawyer can evaluate the case for the possibility of manslaughter, even when facing more severe charges such as second-degree murder.

The sentence for manslaughter in Maryland, under § 2-207 of the Maryland Criminal Code, ranges up to imprisonment for 10 years or a jail term and/or a fine not exceeding $500. The penalty for manslaughter varies based on the specific circumstances of the crime and the presentation of the case by a qualified Maryland manslaughter lawyer.