Being charged with murder is always serious, but Georgia is a DEATH PENALTY state, so taking your defense seriously is even more important. Regardless of guilt, you have the legal right to due process. The attorney you choose to represent you through the judicial process can have a drastic impact on whether you are convicted and on your sentence if a conviction happens. You need an aggressive murder defense lawyer who will put together the best possible defense strategy for your situation and advocate for your rights in the courtroom.
If you or a loved one has been charged with murder or attempted murder in or around the Atlanta area, you need an experienced violent crimes attorney in your corner. Contact Schnipper Law today at (404) 545-5845 for a free case evaluation whether you are still in jail, have been released on bail, or are seeking an attorney for a friend or family member.
Homicide Charges in Georgia
If you have been arrested for causing the death of another person, you face a variety of charges depending on the circumstances of the death. Georgia law divides homicides into three main categories: murder, voluntary manslaughter, and involuntary manslaughter. Below we offer a broad overview of each charge and potential penalties associated with a conviction.
Murder GA Code § 16-5-1
Under Georgia law, four different types of murder exist. They include:
- Murder. A person commits murder under Georgia law when they cause the death of another person with express or implied malice and forethought.
- Malice murder. This murder charge is what is often referred to in other states as premeditated murder. If you have been charged with malice murder, it means the prosecutor believes you deliberately planned to take another person’s life. The law specifically states that the court will assume malice when the victim did not provoke the attack and “where all the circumstances of the killing show an abandoned and malignant heart.”
- Felony murder. All murder charges are felonies under Georgia law; this specific category refers to those who kill another person while committing another felony, regardless of malice. Examples might include robbing a bank, retail store, or restaurant and killing a patron, employee or owner. Killing a person when kidnapping them would also fall under felony murder.
- Second-degree murder. Georgia does not separate murders into degrees like many other states. Yet, in recent years they created a second-degree murder category specifically addressing the death of children. Malice does not matter in these cases. If a child dies because of criminal neglect and cruelty, the accused faces second-degree murder charges. This can include parents as well as babysitters and daycare providers, or anyone who has a child in their care.
Those convicted of murder in Georgia face the death penalty, life in prison without parole, or life in prison with parole after serving 30 years. A second-degree murder conviction carries a minimum of ten years in prison and a maximum of 30 years.
Voluntary Manslaughter GA Code § 16-5-2
In some situations, a prosecutor might charge the accused with voluntary manslaughter instead of murder, but specific criteria must be met. Typically, these charges are reserved for crimes of passion, which don’t involve premeditation. Georgia law specifically states a person commits voluntary manslaughter when they act “solely as the result of a sudden, violent, and irresistible passion resulting from serious provocation.” Yet, provocation is not enough when time goes by. If enough time goes by between provocation and killing, which allows a voice of reason, a jury will attribute the killing as deliberate retaliation.
It’s more likely in this type of situation that you will be charged with murder if you haven’t already been charged. When the jury listens to your case, they will evaluate the situation and might lower your charge if you “snapped” and killed a person in the heat of a moment. If convicted of voluntary manslaughter, you must serve a minimum of one year, but can serve as many as 20 years in prison.
Involuntary Manslaughter GA Code § 16-5-3
Depending on the situation, involuntary manslaughter might be a felony or misdemeanor charge. Felony involuntary manslaughter includes situations where an unlawful act led to the accidental death of another person. Some examples include drunk driving, running a stoplight, or any other traffic law violation resulting in another person’s death, when driving on a suspended or revoked license. A conviction of felony involuntary manslaughter carries a minimum one year prison sentence, but those convicted might have to serve up to ten years in the big house.
Misdemeanor involuntary manslaughter occurs when someone is doing something legal, but in an “unlawful manner,” and it causes accidental death to another person. Some examples also include driving under the influence, running a traffic signal, or driving recklessly. In this situation, it’s legal to drive, but the driver has broken the law and caused accidental death in a traffic accident. Someone who forgets their child in a hot vehicle might also be charged with an involuntary manslaughter misdemeanor.
Get the Legal Help You Need from an Experienced Atlanta Murder Lawyer
Atlanta Murder Defense Lawyer | David Schnipper
A murder conviction doesn’t only cause mass emotional chaos in your life and impact your family in negative ways, but you face the prospect of spending a good chunk of life or all of your life in prison. In the worst cases, you might even find yourself on death row. It’s in your best interest to consult with an attorney who can help fight to prove your innocence, reduce your charges, or save you from the death penalty. An experienced Atlanta murder defense lawyer can investigate your case and enlist experts to review the evidence and circumstances surrounding your arrest. Protect your future and seek out the best defense possible for your case.
If you need legal representation after being arrested and charged with murder or attempted murder in the Atlanta area, contact Schnipper Law at (404) 545-5845 or online for a free case evaluation to determine the best path forward for your case.