What Constitutes Criminal Homicide in Philadelphia


2/5/2018

What constitutes criminal homicide in Philadelphia and throughout the state of Pennsylvania?  Criminal Homicide is a more general term under Pennsylvania law which refers to knowingly, intentionally, recklessly or negligently causing the death of another person.  This is where it can become a bit confusing: a person may be charged with the crime of criminal homicide in Philadelphia, but ultimately the charges must be broken down into specific charges.  The degree and nature of these specific charges has a significant impact on the associated consequences.

Generally speaking, the crime which constitutes criminal homicide in Philadelphia is ultimately broken down into two types of charges: murder or manslaughter.

Pennsylvania law divides murder charges into three “degrees”:

First Degree Murder – generally requires the prosecution to prove beyond a reasonable doubt the accused acted with the intention of killing someone, the “specific intent” to kill.

Second Degree Murder – charged when the murder occurred during the commission of a felony such as robbery, rape, kidnapping or arson.

Third Degree Murder – usually charged when the murder occurred with malice but was not intentional or committed during the act of a felony.

When the act of “intention” or “malice” or the commission of a felony are absent or the death occurred due to an accident or in some cases recklessness the criminal homicide may be charged as manslaughter.  Pennsylvania law establishes two forms of manslaughter:

Voluntary Manslaughter – taking another person’s life without justification during intense passion or after provocation,

Involuntary Manslaughter – The reckless or grossly negligent actions of the accused directly led to the loss of life of the victim.

When considering the concept of what constitutes criminal homicide in Philadelphia it is also important to include two additional statutory distinctions: homicide by vehicle and homicide by drug delivery (usually charged as a Third Degree Murder).

The prosecution usually attempts to file the most serious criminal homicide charges available under Pennsylvania law.  Wimmer Criminal Defense works aggressively to reduce the severity of the charges you face as well as the associated consequences or an outright dismissal of your case.  We invite you to review Lauren Wimmer’s experience in Philadelphia’s Homicide Courts and the recommendations of her clients and contact Wimmer Criminal Defense or call 215-712-1212 for a free consultation.