Atlanta Lawyer Talks about Felony Murder Charges

The felony murder rule is one of the most controversial doctrines in all of criminal law. Normally, to be guilty of murder you must either intend for the victim to die or act with reckless disregard for life. Under the felony murder rule, however, you can be charged with murder if you participate in a felony that results in a death, even if you didn’t intend for anyone to die – all you have to do is intend to commit the underlying felony.

If your gun accidentally discharges and kills someone during the commission of a felony, for example, you might be charged with felony murder. The felony murder rule eliminates the need for the prosecutor to undertake the sometimes difficult task of proving that you intended to kill someone. Furthermore, since Georgia doesn’t recognize degrees of murder, your lack of intent to kill would not even be enough to reduce the charge to second-degree murder.

Not all felonies trigger the felony murder rule – only “inherently dangerous” felonies do, such as bank robbery, in which a death is reasonably foreseeable, even if not intended. You might be charged with felony murder if a death occurs during the commission of robbery, rape, arson, kidnapping, burglary, or running from the police, among other felonies. Nevertheless, you cannot be convicted of felony murder in every instance of these crimes – whether or not the felony murder rule applies depends on the specific facts of each individual case. The key issue is whether a death was reasonably foreseeable under the circumstances, not whether it was likely to occur or not.

Unfortunately, you can be charged with felony murder even if you didn’t kill anyone yourself. For example, if you participate in a robbery as the driver of the getaway car and the clerk shoots and kills your confederate in self-defense, you could be charged with the murder of your confederate even if you didn’t pull the trigger and didn’t even see the murder occur.

The minimum penalty for murder in Georgia, including felony murder, is life imprisonment. Although the death sentence is possible in more serious cases, the U.S. Constitution prevents it from being imposed unless the state can prove that you either intended to kill the victim or acted with reckless disregard for life.

At the ABT Law Firm, we can raise a number of defenses against a felony murder charge. We might argue, for example, that you did not commit the underlying felony, that the underlying felony was not an inherently dangerous one, or that the death of the victim was not reasonably foreseeable under the circumstances.  However, keep in mind that our specific plan of attack depends upon the facts of your case, which we will review and assess at the time of your consultation.

A felony murder charge can place you in great legal danger. If you or someone you love has been charged with felony murder, call 1-800-NOJAIL-9 or 1-800-665-2459 immediately! We will use our decades of combined experience to get your charges dropped. We serve clients in Atlanta as well as all over Georgia, and we offer free initial consultations 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If necessary, we will even come to jail to meet with you.

Atlanta Attorney Talks about the Difference between Murder and Manslaughter in Georgia

Under Georgia state law, “homicide” is a category of offenses that applies when a crime is committed resulting in the death of a victim. The difference between murder, voluntary manslaughter and involuntary manslaughter is particularly important because the seriousness of these crimes vary and a prosecutor may charge you with a more serious offense in the expectation that you will plea bargain your way into a lesser offense.

Unlike many states, Georgia doesn’t divide murder into “first degree” or “second degree”. A murder occurs when one person kills another person with the conscious intent to take his life, when a person kills another person though reckless disregard for human life (by deliberately driving through a crowded crosswalk, for example). Murder also applies when a victim is killed during the commission of an inherently dangerous felony, even if the killing was accidental. The minimum sentence for murder in Georgia is life in prison, and the death penalty is possible if circumstances are serious enough.

A murder charge can be reduced to voluntary manslaughter if you acted pursuant to a sudden and extreme passion. The classic circumstance in which voluntary manslaughter is applied is when a man kills his wife’s lover after catching them in bed together. Another circumstance would be “imperfect self-defense,” scenario in which the killer was provoked and had the right to use self-defense, but overreacted with deadly force. To reduce a murder charge to voluntary manslaughter, you must have been strongly provoked, and you must not have had the opportunity to cool down before the killing. If convicted of voluntary manslaughter in Georgia, you could face a prison sentence of up to 20 years.

A voluntary manslaughter charge can be reduced to involuntary manslaughter if the killing was accidental but was the result of criminal negligence. You can be criminally negligent by driving while legally intoxicated, and you can be charged with voluntary manslaughter if this results in a fatal accident. Another example would be an electrician who flagrantly disregards safety regulations while rewiring a house, thereby causing a fire that results in death. Voluntary manslaughter can result in a prison sentence of up to ten years, but can be reduced to a misdemeanor under limited circumstances.

There are many ways a good attorney can defend against any of these charges. The state must prove every aspect of its case (that the defendant was acting negligently, for example) beyond a reasonable doubt in order to win a conviction. The prosecutor must also prove that the killing was not justified – that you did not act appropriately in self-defense, for example.

Being convicted of any of these offenses is a serious matter than could ruin your life. At ABT Law Firm, LLC, we will fight for you aggressively so that your charges can be dropped and you can avoid prison time. Call 1-800-NOJAIL-9 or 1-800-665-2459 at any time 24/7 for a free initial consultation either in our office, over the telephone, or even in jail. We serve clients in the Atlanta area as well as all over Georgia.

Atlanta Criminal Defense Attorney Discusses Georgia’s Capital Punishment Laws

Capital punishment is one of the most widely debated areas of criminal law across the United States. Many states have abolished capital punishment in favor of life sentences in prison. Georgia is one of the many states that continue to practice capital punishment, even though historically, the issue has been challenged on many levels. For example, in 1972, the landmark case Furman v. Georgia challenged the state’s use of capital punishment. In Furman v. Georgia, the U.S. Supreme Court found that Georgia’s capital punishment laws were uneven, and therefore “cruel and unusual”, which is in violation of the U.S. Constitution. The Supreme Court also found that Georgia’s capital punishment laws were biased.

Following Furman v. Georgia, many states abolished capital punishment, but in subsequent years reinstated it for violent and serious offenders. Georgia is one of the states that followed suit. However, when Georgia reinstated capital punishment, new, fairer guidelines were implemented in order to reduce bias and protect Constitutional rights. Since that time, Georgia lawmakers have continued to amend and correct inconsistencies in capital punishment laws, with the current breakdown of the laws reading as follows:

  • Capital Homicide – Capital homicide is the common classification under which several crimes are listed as subject to capital punishment. These crimes include murder, armed robbery, rape, and kidnapping by anyone who is a previously convicted felon. Additionally, anyone knowingly creating danger and risk to the life of another person in public is subject to capital punishment. Furthermore, murder committed for financial gain, against officers of the court, against law enforcement officers, or in an inhuman, horrible, or wantonly dangerous manner, are crimes also punishable by capital punishment.
  • Crimes Other than Capital Homicide – Georgia law lists two non-homicide crimes that qualify for capital punishment, including hijacking an aircraft and treason.
  • Suspended Sentence – Certain circumstances may result in the court suspending a sentence of capital punishment, such as in the event of a pregnant defendant. When this is the case, the court will not execute capital punishment until after the woman is no longer pregnant.
  • Age Restrictions – Currently, Georgia law mandates that the standard minimum age in which an individual can be sentenced to capital punishment is 17 years of age. There are cases where capital punishment may be sought against younger individuals, but in most cases, such defendants are generally sentenced to life in prison.

Avoid the Death Penalty with a Strong Criminal Defense

Prosecutors routinely seek capital punishments, i.e., the death penalty, in cases of violence, rape, kidnapping, and murder. Even so, it is important that anyone accused of a serious crime understand his or her rights to a legal defense. There are many complexities to criminal cases, especially those involving capital punishment, and it is critical to have a proper system of legal support in place in order to avoid the death penalty.

At Abt Law Firm, LLC, our team is well versed in current Georgia law concerning capital punishment. Our Atlanta Murder Trial Lawyer fights aggressively to protect the future of every client, including fighting capital punishment. If you have been arrested and are being charged with crimes that could result in the death penalty, act quickly to get the help you need. Contact Abt Law Firm, LLC today to avoid the death penalty by calling 1-800-NOJAIL-9 (1-800-665-2459). We proudly offer free consultations to clients in our office, at the jail, or over the telephone, and are available 24/7 for your convenience. Get the help you need, and the defense that you can trust, by calling Abt Law Firm, LLC.

Atlanta Criminal Defense Attorney Discusses Differences in Murder and Manslaughter Charges

While it is common knowledge that a criminal charge or manslaughter or murder will result in strict penalties in Georgia, many residents are unaware of the difference between the two classifications. Fortunately, Abt Law Firm, LLC is here to help.  At Abt Law Firm, LLC, we pride ourselves on helping Georgia residents learn about criminal law and how the process works, in order for individuals to be prepared to defend themselves against criminal allegations.

There is no question that the taking of one life by another is serious business. Georgia law is very strict in regards to manslaughter and murder, and classifies each of them independently with separate penalties for each crime. The most common breakdown of the two includes:

  • Manslaughter – Manslaughter is the taking of one life by another, but generally refers to cases of negligence, where there was no true intent to commit murder. Often, manslaughter charges result from automobile accidents, or incidents where an accident has occurred, or the defendant did not intent to fatally injure someone else.
  • Homicide/Murder - Murder can be classified as the taking of one life by another with malice aforethought. This means that the individual intentionally took the life of someone else. Whereas manslaughter may be the result of an accident, homicide or murder is the result of a calculated incident.

Penalties for Manslaughter and Murder Charges

Like most states, Georgia takes manslaughter and murder charges very seriously, and punishes defendants to the utmost extent of the law. Depending on the exact details of the incidents leading to arrest, there are myriad possibilities for charges and penalties under either classification. The most common penalties associated with manslaughter or murder includes:

  • Assistance with Suicide – Punishable by up to 5 years in prison
  • Manslaughter – Georgia law classifies manslaughter under two categories – voluntary and involuntary. Involuntary manslaughter is punishable by up to 10 years in prison. Voluntary manslaughter is punishable by up to 20 years in prison.
  • Homicide/Murder – Punishable by death, life sentence in prison, and many other penalties depending on the nature of the charges and the circumstances surrounding them

Depending on the circumstances surrounding the charges against you, manslaughter and murder charges may accompany other charges such as robbery, rape, or aggravated assault. Depending on the individual details of your case, the outcome can vary significantly.

You Can Fight a Manslaughter or Murder Charge

Even though manslaughter and murder charges are serious, they do not always have to be the detriment of your future security and stability. There are many reasons why people choose to act out in violence against another person, including self defense, defense of someone else, and in order to prevent a crime. In other cases, the death of another person is purely an accident, which should not always be treated as a criminal offense. People make mistakes, and what matters is how those mistakes are handled.

At Abt Law Firm, LLC, we understand that people make mistakes and sometimes choose to behave in a way that is not in accordance with the law. Even so, that does not mean that the individual is a horrible person to be damned by the law. Often, even manslaughter and murder charges can be challenged, or at the very least, a plea bargain can be negotiated in order to secure the best outcome possible.

If you have been arrested and charged with manslaughter or murder, contact Abt Law Firm, LLC right away to schedule a free consultation. Let our experienced Atlanta Criminal Defense Attorney fight for your rights, and the best interests of your future. Avoid a permanent violent criminal record by calling 1-800-NOJAIL-9 (1-800-665-2459).