Answered by David Nenner, a Philadelphia Criminal Lawyer
Murder convictions in Pennsylvania will result in significant prison sentences. Below are the maximum penalties for various murder charges under PA state law:
- Murder in the First Degree = Mandatory death or life imprisonment
- Murder in the Second Degree (Felony Murder) = Mandatory life imprisonment
- Drug Delivery Resulting in Death = 40 years
- First Degree Felony (Third Degree Murder) = 10-20 years
Preparing the Best Possible Defenses
Given the severe penalties for murder charges in Pennsylvania, it’s crucial to start preparing defenses as soon as possible. There are often legal and factual defenses that must be investigated and developed. Time is of the essence. In Philadelphia murder cases, months, if not years may have gone by between the date of the incident and the arrest. The more time that passes, the more difficult it becomes to locate important witnesses and evidence.
Murder cases will usually depend heavily on witnesses and credibility of witnesses. It’s often the case that the victim and defendant knew each other or had a history. There’s often prior beefs between people, neighbors, friends and even family members that end up being the subject of murder cases. This is definitely true in murder cases filed in Philadelphia.
Investigating the facts of a case, especially the relationships between the parties and witnesses, will give rise to defense strategies and theories. How did the victim and defendant know each other, and under what circumstances? Did the victim or witness ever speak poorly about or ever threaten the defendant? Were there prior incidents of violence between the victim, witnesses and/or defendant?
In some murder cases, self-defense may be presented and successful. First, the defendant must have reasonably believed that he or she was in immediate danger of death or serious injury from the victim. Second, the defendant’s belief about having to use deadly force to protect himself or herself was reasonable under the circumstances.
Common Legal Defense – Motions to Suppress Based on Police Mistake (Constitutional Violation)
In a murder case, it’s critical to identify any possible police errors that would result in suppression of valuable evidence, i.e., a confession or physical evidence like a weapon or drugs. Whether it’s because of a violation of the 4th, 5th or 6th Amendment, suppression of evidence can result in charges being dismissed or provide the defense with the upper hand during any plea negotiations.
Visit the Philadelphia Murder Charges Law Library for more info.
Philadelphia Criminal Lawyer – FREE CONSULTATIONS
David Nenner is a criminal lawyer with over 30 years of experience in major criminal cases including murder, drug and gun cases. Mr. Nenner is a firm partner and is recognized as a TOP Criminal Defense Lawyer by Super Lawyers magazine. Call for a free consultation. (215) 564-0644