Question: A family member in Philadelphia was charged with murder. The family member sold heroine to his friend. After using the drug, the friend died. What consequences is he facing?
Answer: Because I do not have all the facts, the answer will be based on some assumptions. Therefore, it is best that the family member talks to an experienced Philadelphia criminal defense lawyer.
First Degree Murder in Philadelphia, PA
There are different types of murder charges in Pennsylvania. The most serious is murder in the first degree. It is punishable by death or life in prison without parole. Murder in the first degree is an intentional killing of another person and also premeditated. In other words, the killing was planned.
The family member could face murder in the first degree if the family member planned and intentionally killed the friend. For instance, if the family member had a falling out with his friend and intentionally sold a counterfeit drug knowing that he could die after use, he may be charged with first degree murder.
Second Degree Murder – Felony Murder
Second degree murder is the act of killing another person during the commission of a felony, such as robbery, kidnapping or drug trafficking/dealing.
From the limited facts you gave, it does not appear that the family member would be charged with second degree murder. Again, it is important to talk to a criminal defense lawyer to discuss what the family member may be facing.
Third Degree Murder in Philadelphia, PA
Third degree murder is defined as a killing that is not premeditated or intentional, but are committed with malice, i.e., intend to commit an unlawful act.
For instance, the family member was selling drugs to his friend, which is an unlawful act. After using the drug, his friend dies. In such a case, the family member may be charged with third degree murder because the killing was not intentional or premeditated, but done while committing an unlawful act. Third degree murder is a felony of the first degree. If convicted, the family member faces up to 40 years in prison.
Related: Murder Charges & Law in Pennsylvania
After Being Charged with Murder
If the family member has been charged, it is important that he does not talk to the police or prosecutors without having an attorney present. Police officers will often question arrested individuals. What your family member says during questioning may be used against him later. If the police question the family member, he should not answer the questions and tell them that he wants a lawyer.
Being charged with murder has serious consequences, and it is crucial to have an experienced Philadelphia criminal defense lawyer on your side. David Nenner is a skilled and experienced criminal defense lawyer in Philadelphia. He offers FREE consultations. Call 215.564.0644.
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