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Defense options vary for first-degree murder

In our previous post, we discussed the accusations that have been placed against a convicted killer’s son. If you recall, that man is accused of killing his estranged girlfriend’s sister and kidnapping the estranged girlfriend. That story brings up an important point — defense options for people who are facing first-degree or capital murder charges.

The defense options that people facing first-degree murder can use depend on the circumstances of the case. Because first-degree murder penalties in Alabama are harsh, defendants must choose the option that they feel is best suited to their case.

One factor to consider when deciding on a first-degree murder defense is that the prosecution must prove a variety of elements were met in order to obtain a first-degree murder conviction. Generally, this means they have to prove that the defendant acted in a way that was premeditated, willful and deliberate. As such, defendants can argue that the prosecution didn’t prove those points.

Some defendants might opt to use a defense strategy that admits to the killing but not to the circumstances of a first-degree murder. They might argue self-defense, justifiable homicide or defense of another as the basis for the killing. In some cases, the defendant might claim the killing was accidental.

Of course, not all defendants admit to killing someone. In those cases, they might use a defense based on mistaken identity. In that case, an alibi is usually one way that the defendant might prove his or her innocence.

It is vital that anyone facing murder charges carefully consider his or her defense strategy. Working with someone familiar with violent crime cases might help them to better understand each option.

Source: FindLaw, “First Degree Murder Defenses,” accessed Aug. 06, 2015