If you are currently facing a criminal charge for homicide, you know that you have a hard road ahead. Homicides have a large, long-term emotional impact on everyone involved.
At this difficult time, you need a top Lake Charles defense attorney with a history of success and extensive experience in homicide cases. The prosecuting attorney will fight hard to prove your guilt. The Johnson Firm represents you accurately and justly, fighting for your rights every step of the way.
HOMICIDE LAWS IN LOUISIANA
Homicide is defined in R.S. 14:29 by the Louisiana State Legislature as the act, procurement, or culpable omission of killing a human by another human being. There are five grades, including:
First-degree murder – The killing of a human being with intent to kill or inflict great bodily harm when there are other factors present, such as engaging in a form of kidnapping, arson, escape, rape, burglary, robbery, and beyond. It also includes the intent to kill or greatly harm a fireman, peace officer, or civilian employee, as well as the intent to kill or greatly harm more than one person. Many more scenarios are included, see R.S. 14:30 for more.
Second-degree murder – The killing of a human being with a specific intent to kill or inflict great bodily harm. It also includes a murder that happened while engaging in kidnapping, arson, escape, rape, and beyond without the intent to kill or greatly harm. Additionally, an unlawful distribution or assisted unlawful distribution of a controlled dangerous substance that causes the death of a human being is included.
Manslaughter – A homicide that is a first-degree or second-degree murder, but the crime was committed immediately following provocation that caused the offender to lose self-control and cool reflection. It is also a homicide with zero intent to cause death or excessive bodily harm.
Negligent homicide – The killing of a human being by criminal negligence, or the killing of a human being by a dog or another animal by a reckless and criminally negligent owner.
Vehicular homicide – The killing of a human being caused proximately or directly by a person operating a motor vehicle, aircraft, watercraft, etc., whether or not the offender had the intent to kill or cause great bodily harm. The operator must be under the influence of alcohol, a controlled substance (dangerous or not), or a combination of the two.
Homicide is a very serious crime in Louisiana, and the punishments are severe and can be life-changing. Punishments by law include jail time, fines, and more. When convicted of the varying degrees of homicide, outcomes can include:
First-degree murder: Death or life imprisonment at hard labor without parole, probation, or a suspension of sentence
Second-degree murder: Life imprisonment at hard labor without the benefit of parole, probation, or suspension of sentence
Manslaughter: Up to 40 years in prison.
Negligent homicide: Up to five years in prison and/or up to $5,000 in fees
Vehicular homicide: $2,000 to $15,000 in fines and imprisonment with or without hard labor for five to 30 years
No matter the penalties you’re up against, a homicide attorney in Lake Charles will fight to get the best outcome possible for your case.
When you’re charged with homicide, you need a rock-solid defense team that will form a strong defense in your favor. The Johnson Firm diligently investigates your case and questions every aspect to minimize penalties, reduce charges, and/or dismiss charges at any opportunity. We exercise all of the rights that you have as a citizen.
The Johnson Firm will lead you every step of the way. We want you to have confidence in your next steps and your future beyond this case. Don’t navigate a homicide charge alone; our top defense team wants to guide you to a brighter future.
At the very first hearing in your case, our criminal defense attorney files numerous motions requesting any and all evidence that the prosecutor intends to use against you in order to strategically employ defenses aimed at achieving the best possible outcome in your case, whether it be a reduction in charge(s) or an outright dismissal. These motions also demand evidence that the State has in its possession which is favorable to the defendant’s case, commonly referred to as exculpatory evidence. Likewise, often times it is necessary for additional motions be filed to demand evidence not initially disclosed that shed light on a sloppy investigation, dishonest police officers, or a failure by the police to preserve evidence and/or follow policy. To that end, evidence may be suppressed (i.e. ruled inadmissible/thrown out) if it is determined that such evidence was unconstitutionally seized or if the police officer failed to preserve evidence properly as required by law. The following are some homicide/murder that have been successfully utilized:
No Intent: It must be proven that a person had specific intent to kill or inflict great bodily harm. However, the defendant may not have been able to form intent for various reasons, including but not limited to, incapacity due to mental illness/medical condition, involuntary intoxication, or an honest mistake. When such is the case, our criminal defense attorney and our investigator will zealously investigate the case to find corroborating evidence to support this defense in court and/or to bolster negotiations with the prosecutor to have your case dismissed or substantially reduced prior to trial.
Self Defense and/or Defense of Others: If a person feels threatened or has a reasonable fear that someone else would be harmed or their property would be damaged, they have a legal right to defend themselves, others, and/or their property. Louisiana is a stand your ground state. Likewise, our criminal defense attorney has successfully gotten cases dismissed and won jury trials based on this defense.
Violation of Constitutional Rights: Everyone has a constitutional right against self-incrimination; therefore, an officer must advise a person of their rights, including their right to refuse questioning, prior to any interrogation and/or testing. Officers routinely fail to properly honor a suspect’s right to refuse questioning or cutoff questioning. Accordingly, when the officer fails to honor the suspect’s rights, statements made by the subject may be suppressed and the charges dismissed.
Missing Video Footage: Law enforcement agencies have specific policies and procedures in place that mandate officers to record their investigation and interaction with parties involved. Therefore, unit and/or body camera footage should be available from every officer that was on scene assisting with the investigation in order to give an accurate depiction of the events that took place. When material and/or exculpatory video is lost, our criminal defense attorney will seek to have the charges dismissed based on a violation of due process.
Evidence Contamination: Typically, there are several officers from various law enforcement agencies that assist with a homicide investigation which can result in evidence being unintentionally left and/or removed from the scene. When material and/or exculpatory evidence is compromised, our criminal defense attorney will seek to have the charges dismissed based on a violation of due process.
Warrantless Search/Seizure: Officers must obtain a valid warrant prior to searching and seizing evidence from a person’s property. If the facts listed in the affidavit supporting the warrant do not constitute probable cause, our criminal defense attorney will file a Motion to Suppress the evidence seized as a result of the invalid warrant. This can result in your charge(s) being dismissed or drastically reduced.
TALK TO US ABOUT YOUR CASE
Our top homicide defense team is ready to hear more about your case. Together, we will review the details and make a plan to move forward. We work hard to represent you well and deliver the best results.