Detroit Murder Lawyer
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Detroit has one of the highest murder rates in the country. In fact, there is no city in America with more than 100,000 residents where more murders take place. While less than 10% of Michigan’s population lives in Detroit, around 50% of the state’s murders take place within its city limits. Accordingly, the authorities spare no expense in investigating and prosecuting Detroit murder cases.
Murder is the most serious criminal charge that a suspect can face, so it goes without saying that hiring good legal representation should be a priority. Criminal trials move fast, and prosecutors may be under pressure to put someone behind bars after a widely publicized crime. In these cases, it’s essential to have a skilled and experienced Detroit murder lawyer be your side.
How Does Michigan Law Define Murder?
According to Michigan Penal Code section 750.316, you may be guilty of murder of the first degree when a prosecutor proves beyond a reasonable doubt that:
- You intentionally killed another person
- By poising, lying in wait, or any other willful, deliberate or premeditated means; OR
- The killing occurred while you were committing arson, sexual misconduct, child abuse, a serious drug offense, robbery, carjacking, burglary, larceny, kidnapping, aggravated stalking, or unlawful imprisonment; OR
- The victim was a law enforcement officer who was performing his or her duties at the time of the murder
A conviction for murder of the first degree will result in a life sentence without the possibility of parole.
All other instances of an intentional killing of another person may be charged under Michigan Penal Code 750.317, which lays out the penalty for second-degree murder. If convicted of this offense, you may face a prison sentence of any length.
Defending a Michigan Murder Case by Suppressing the Evidence
The first step your lawyer will take in defending your murder case is to carefully consider all of the prosecution’s evidence, and determine whether any of it may excludable. Before the trial starts, your lawyer has the option of filing a motion to suppress the evidence, which may result in some important evidence being removed from the case.
In the context of a murder case, there are several scenarios in which evidence might be excludable:
- The police illegally seized evidence — The police can only search a vehicle if they have a reasonable suspicion to pull it over, and then upon talking to the driver or observing the vehicle itself, they develop probable cause to believe a search may turn up evidence of a crime. When it comes to homes or businesses, the police may only conduct a search with a search warrant, your consent, or emergency circumstances. Any evidence seized during a search that does not meet the above standards may be excluded from the case.
- The police illegally obtained your statements — When the police arrest you on the suspicion that you’ve committed a murder, you can expect a lengthily interrogation. But first, the police must inform you of your right to remain silent and to obtain a lawyer. If you request the assistance of a lawyer, the questioning must stop. Any incriminating statements the police obtain in violation of these standards may be suppressed from the prosecutor’s case.
- The authorities tampered with evidence — In murder cases, prosecutors often use DNA evidence obtained from the crime scene to prove the suspect’s guilt. But if a sample is improperly collected, labeled, stored, or analyzed, your lawyer can request that this evidence be removed from the case.
- If your lawyer wins the motion to suppress, the prosecutor will be missing some or all of the evidence needed to prove your guilt. Your lawyer can request that a judge dismiss the charges before the trial starts if the remaining evidence is so weak that it doesn’t justify having a trial. If the case does go to trial, the prosecutor will be at a significant disadvantage if he or she cannot use all of the available evidence against you.
Two Paths to Winning a Murder Trial
There are two ways to win a murder trial: claiming an affirmative defense or proving there is a reasonable doubt as to whether you actually committed the crime. An affirmative defense means that you admit to having intentionally killed someone, but you claim that your actions were justified. The primary affirmative defenses to murder charges are the following:
- Self-defense — According to Michigan Code section 780.972, you may use deadly force against another an attacker if you reasonably believe that you or another person is about to suffer death, great bodily harm, or a sexual assault at the hands of the attacker.
- Insanity — There are two insanity defenses in Michigan. One involves claiming that you are guilty but mentally ill, in which case you will get convicted but spend your sentence in a mental institution instead of prison. The other insanity defense is to claim that you are not guilty because your mental state did not allow you to understand your actions or to act intentionally.
When using an affirmative defense is not an option under the facts of your case, your lawyer will attempt to show that the prosecutor did not demonstrate every element of the case beyond a reasonable doubt. Juries are instructed to return guilty verdicts only when the prosecutor proves that there is no doubt as to whether the suspect committed a crime. In the context of a murder, this means presenting unambiguous evidence that you actually killed the victim, and that you did so intentionally.
Your Michigan lawyer can challenge the prosecution’s witnesses and reinterpret the evidence to show the jury that there is reasonable doubt. If the prosecutor can’t show with certainty that you are the perpetrator, you will likely receive a verdict of not guilty. If the prosecutor proves that you committed the crime, but there is some doubt as to whether you acted intentionally, you may receive a manslaughter conviction, which is a less serious offense.
Every case is different, so you should consult with a reputable Detroit criminal defense attorney if you’re facing charges for murder or another violent offense. At Davis Law Group, we approach each case we handle with determination, compassion, and aggressiveness. To learn more about how we can help, call us today for a free and confidential consultation of your case.
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