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What is a Homicide Attorney?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

A homicide attorney is a lawyer who specializes in handling homicide cases, where a person is accused of killing another human being. Homicides are not the same as murders, which involve premeditation and an active desire to kill. A case that may be tried as a homicide might be one where someone kills a burglar in a private home, arguing that the killing was a justifiable homicide on the grounds of the threat presented by the invader. Homicide attorneys can work on a number of different aspects of a homicide case and apply their expertise to both prosecution and defense.

Attorneys specializing in defense work with people accused of homicide to defend them in a court of law. A homicide attorney can approach the defense from a variety of perspectives, ranging from an argument that the client did not commit the act at all to an argument based on justification, arguing that while the client is responsible and the death is unfortunate, it was also unavoidable or necessary in the given situation. Fees for the attorney's services vary and are charged regardless of the outcome of the case.

Criminal homicide may be charged as murder, manslaughter, or unlawful negligence.
Criminal homicide may be charged as murder, manslaughter, or unlawful negligence.

Homicide attorneys can also specialize in prosecuting homicide cases or acting as consultants for the prosecution. In this case, the goal is to present evidence proving a crime occurred and demonstrating who is responsible. Prosecuting attorneys can also be involved in the development of plea deals, where someone pleads guilty to a lesser charge to get a reduced sentence, and they determine if a case should go to court at all on the basis of the evidence and the circumstances.

A person who works as a homicide attorney is a fully qualified lawyer and may have taken some special electives in law school to prepare for practice in this area of the law. After school, clerkships or internships providing exposure to homicide cases are often used to give the homicide attorney experience, and this experience will be used as the lawyer participates in the development of cases and eventually represents cases in court independently.

The more experience a homicide attorney has, the better the chances of prevailing in court. Experienced attorneys tend to be expensive, although some offer pro bono services in the interests of participating in their communities and engaging in charity. Less experienced attorneys are not necessarily less qualified, as they may have skills in other areas like a thorough knowledge of recent case law that may be helpful in court.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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    • Criminal homicide may be charged as murder, manslaughter, or unlawful negligence.
      By: hues
      Criminal homicide may be charged as murder, manslaughter, or unlawful negligence.