There’s no more serious crime than murder. If you’re under investigation for homicide in Shreveport or Bossier City, or if you’ve already been arrested or charged, you need to act fast to start building your defense and preserving your chance at freedom. Without a zealous defense attorney on your side, you could find yourself stuck in jail awaiting trial or forced to accept an unreasonably harsh plea, whether you believe yourself innocent or not. Louisiana takes murder charges extremely seriously, and neither the prosecutors, the police, nor the court will give you the benefit of the doubt while you build your case.

If you or someone you care about is facing murder charges, the dedicated lawyer at Whiddon Criminal Law is ready to take your case. We’ll fight to protect your rights as a defendant, build a case to establish your defense and undermine the prosecution’s case, negotiate for reduced charges, or take your case all the way through trial if necessary. At Whiddon Criminal Law, our job’s not done until you get the best outcome possible in your criminal case.

Murder Charges in Louisiana

In Louisiana, there are two different types of murder charges: first-degree murder and second-degree murder. The two crimes are similar and carry similar penalties, although only first-degree murder carries the potential for the death penalty.

First-degree murder involves a premeditated act of intentional murder. First-degree murder applies when the defendant intentionally killed someone or intended to commit great bodily harm, and one or more additional factors apply. A homicide can be first-degree murder if committed during the commission of a listed violent felony if committed against a law enforcement officer, if committed for hire, or if committed against certain other victims or based on certain other motivations (such as silencing a witness to a crime).

Second-degree murder applies when the defendant intends to commit murder or cause serious bodily harm or when the defendant unintentionally kills someone during the commission of certain felonies. The covered felonies include certain violent crimes such as aggravated arson, aggravated kidnapping, and armed robbery. Second-degree murder also applies if the victim was killed due to the defendant’s distribution of a controlled, dangerous substance.

Manslaughter and Negligent Homicide in Louisiana

Louisiana criminal law also includes a lesser charge for manslaughter. Manslaughter, or “heat of passion” homicide, is chargeable where the defendant did, in fact, kill the victim but did so as a result of serious provocation. As defined in the Louisiana statutes, manslaughter covers homicides that would be chargeable as first or second-degree murder but which were committed “in sudden passion or heat of blood immediately caused by provocation sufficient to deprive an average person of his self-control and cool reflection.”

Manslaughter is also chargeable when a defendant killed someone without the intent to cause death or great bodily harm but did so while committing a non-violent felony or while resisting a lawful arrest in a manner that was not inherently dangerous. Manslaughter thus covers felony murders, meaning unintentional deaths that occur during the commission of a felony, other than the felonies that trigger a second-degree murder charge.

Additionally, defendants who unintentionally kill someone by way of criminal negligence can be charged with negligent homicide. Criminal negligence is a higher standard than normal negligence; the defendant must have shown a complete disregard for others and a gross deviation below the standard of care expected to be maintained by a person in the given situation.

Penalties for Homicide in Louisiana

The penalties for homicide in Louisiana are extremely severe. If the defendant is convicted of first or second-degree murder, they will be sentenced to life. If you are facing homicide charges, it’s vital that you retain the services of a dedicated, experienced homicide defense lawyer as soon as possible.

The punishments for homicide crimes are as follows:

  • First-degree murder is punishable by life without the possibility of parole or the death penalty.
  • Second-degree murder is punishable by life without the possibility of parole.
  • Manslaughter is punishable by up to 40 years in prison, with a mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison if the victim is under the age of 10.
  • Vehicular homicide is punishable by 5 to 30 years in prison.
  • Negligent homicide is punishable by up to 5 years in prison, with a mandatory minimum of 2 years in prison if the victim is under the age of 10.

Call the Shreveport-Bossier Homicide Defense Lawyer at Whiddon Criminal Defense After a Murder or Manslaughter Arrest

If you’ve been arrested or charged with murder in northwest Louisiana, you need a zealous and effective homicide defense lawyer on your team as quickly as possible. The consequences of a murder conviction will follow you for the rest of your life. Our experienced homicide defense lawyer is ready to evaluate your case and help you avoid the worst outcomes in your murder case. Call the dedicated Shreveport-Bossier murder defense attorney at Whiddon Criminal Defense for help fighting for your rights, your future, and your freedom. Contact us today for a free case evaluation.