Being charged with murdering another human being is as serious as it gets in the criminal justice system, and in the state of Arkansas it might lead to the death penalty. Defendants have no time to lose in getting the right Little Rock murder defense lawyer on their side, and they ought to be confident that their attorney understands exactly what needs to be done in the fight for acquittal.
The Law Office of Omar F. Greene brings a smart, strategic approach to all of our cases and we have a deep understanding of how to proceed in a murder case. Call today at (501) 600-0451 or contact us online to set up a consultation.
Types of Murder Charges in Arkansas
Circumstances and context matter in all cases, and in murder, those circumstances will determine what level of charges are brought by the District Attorney. The following are the murder charges that can be brought in the state of Arkansas…
1st Degree Murder
The most serious charge, this is the one where a D.A. has the option of seeking the death penalty. A first-degree murder charge can be applied if the defendant acted knowingly and willingly to take the life of someone else.
This presumes premeditation on the part of the defendant—that there was a deliberate plan that was through and then carried out. If a jury is to convict a defendant on the charge of 1st-degree murder, then the premeditation—in addition to the crime itself—must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
Proving what a defendant was thinking is not an easy task, and our experienced Little Rock murder defense attorney can work to demand proof of this premeditated plan. Were there text messages or other written communication where the defendant established their intent? Are there are any circumstances that would lead a reasonable person to conclude that the defendant planned the whole crime in advance? If not, then a 1st-degree murder charge ought not to stick, and it’s the lawyers job to fight for justice to prevail.
Prosecutors may also bring 1st-degree murder chargers if the defendant is accused of committing the crime while in the act of committing another felony. An example might be charges of shooting someone during a burglary attempt or an alleged sex crime.
Other possibilities for 1st degree murder include shooting a gun from a moving vehicle and thereby causing the death of another. Hiring another person to commit murder will bring 1st-degree charges. The same goes for anything involving the death of someone 14 years old or younger where the defendant is proven to have shown an “extreme indifference” to human life, even if murder was not explicitly intended.
The decision on whether to seek the death penalty is separate from the decision to bring 1st-degree murder charges. In death penalty cases, there is a second part of the trial that focuses solely on whether this sentence will be carried out.
Of course, that presumes the defendant is found guilty. The state of Arkansas has a high legal bar to clear in these cases, as they do in all criminal cases. That’s the bar of “guilty beyond a reasonable doubt”. The jury must be made aware that if they think there is any reasonable possibility the defendant didn’t commit the crime, then they are obligated vote for acquittal. It’s the defense lawyer’s job to constantly raise issues that bring about reasonable doubt, and then remind the jury of their obligation under the law.
Call the Law Office of Omar F. Greene to talk to an experienced and effective murder defense lawyer. We can be reached at (501) 600-0451 or by filling out our online contact form.
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2nd Degree Murder
A 2nd-degree murder charge does not require the prosecution to prove premeditation. Some of these circumstances (death of a child, death during commission of another crime, etc.) that were in the 1st-degree category. Other cases of a death which was not premeditated, but was caused by a reckless disregard for human life, are 2nd-degree murder.
A manslaughter charge might arise out of a crime of passion. There was no intent to kill, nor was there a reckless disregard for human life. This is murder that arises out of the heat of moment. Another example of manslaughter is helping another person take their own life. This includes physician=-assisted suicide, which is illegal in the state of Arkansas.
In this case, there was no intent to kill at any point—no premeditation, no reckless disregard, not even anything done in a moment of fury. But there was negligent action taken, something that a reasonable person would know could result in the death of another person. Driving while intoxicated is a prime example of circumstances that lead to negligent homicide.
Your life can be directly on the line in a murder case. Even if the investigation is for a non-capital offense, a conviction can still mean a lengthy prison stay and the permanent loss of reputation after release. At this critical hour, it’s important that your Little Rock murder defense lawyer be experienced, that they know the nuances of Arkansas law, and that they have the respect of their peers within the legal system itself.
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