Whether you are an alleged perpetrator of a crime or a victim, it is beneficial to learn more about your rights within your state. Homicide is one crime that offers distinctions that are important to note. In West Virginia, manslaughter and murder are two types of homicide that are distinctly defined. The differences between the two crimes are marked by the circumstances of the case and its severity.
When a Homicide Is Classified as Murder
When you talk to a criminal attorney in Martinsburg, WV, he or she can further clarify these kinds of homicide offenses. For example, of the two, a charge of murder is more serious because the offender killed the victim with the intent to do so. Therefore, the main characteristic in murder cases is malice aforethought, or intent. According to the West Virginia law, a homicide is classified as murder if the perpetrator willfully, maliciously, and deliberately killed the victim.
Manslaughter is also a serious charge that requires legal representation by a criminal attorney. This type of homicide, similar to murder, is a felony charge and is therefore heavily penalized. Manslaughter is often referred to as an accidental homicide as the intent to kill is missing. Two types of manslaughter are tried in West Virginia courts and are represented as follows:
• Involuntary manslaughter results from criminal negligence and carries the least severe penalty.
• Voluntary manslaughter is often provoked in extremely emotional situations.
To understand your rights, it is also helpful to consult with a criminal attorney about the classifications for crimes. For instance, according to West Virginia law, every offense, whether it is a misdemeanor or felony, carries its own penalties. Unlike some of the other states, West Virginia law does not divide misdemeanors and felonies into various classes with certain penalty ranges.
You can gain further information about your rights as well as legal assistance by contacting the law firm of Bottner & Skillman. If you have been involved in crime and need legal defense, call a competent attorney first to obtain the best outcome for your case.