Murder, Homicide, & Manslaughter Criminal Lawyers in Topeka

Murder & Homicide Defense Lawyers in TopekaThe potentially severe consequences of a murder or manslaughter conviction in Kansas are no surprise to anyone. 

Few individuals would attempt to defend a murder or manslaughter charge without legal assistance but these charges require the most experienced, skilled, and thorough lawyer on your side.

With the stakes being so high and the future of the accused on the line, it’s no time to cut corners. Cases often hinge upon the minutest of details.

If you or a family member finds yourself in this difficult and stressful position, speak to one of our experienced criminal defense lawyers at Irigonegaray, Turney, Revenaugh, LP in Topeka.

During a free initial discussion, we can take the first steps to prepare a rigorous criminal defense against murder or manslaughter charges.

What is first-degree murder in Kansas?

The crime of murder can be classified as first- or second-degree, depending on the level of premeditation involved.

According to Kansas statute 21-5402, murder in the first degree is the killing of a human being committed:

(1) Intentionally and with premeditation; or

(2) in the commission of, attempt to commit, or flight from an inherently dangerous felony.

First-degree murder cases most commonly relate to premeditated killings, such as organized crime killings, gang-related homicides or domestic cases.

Cases are often intense and technical and your lawyer will need to examine each element of the prosecution’s case against you, including how evidence was gathered and whether your legal rights were observed.

Often, we will need to work with specialists, private investigators, forensic analysts, DNA experts, and other professionals in order to prepare the best possible defense. Witnesses will need to be intensively cross-examined. Cases generally last a long time.

Remember, the burden of proof on the prosecution is extremely high in murder cases and if there is an element of doubt in your guilt, no jury in Kansas can convict you.

What is second-degree murder?

According to Kansas statute 21-5403, murder in the second degree is the killing of a human being committed:

  • Intentionally; or
  • unintentionally but recklessly under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life

So, unlike with first-degree murder, there is no premeditation involved in a second-degree murder case.

A typical example is a homicide that results from a bar fight, where the situation escalates and gets out of hand rather than being a planned attack.

Note that you can still be charged with murder even if the killing is unintentional. If the behavior that leads to the homicide is deemed to be extremely reckless, the charge can be second-degree murder rather than manslaughter (see below section).

The stakes are extremely high with second-degree murder and your lawyer will need to take an exhaustive approach to prepare the most robust defense. 

Your lawyer will painstakingly examine all the evidence for weaknesses in the prosecution’s case and aim to create doubt in the jurors’ minds.

What are the penalties for murder in Kansas?

Many people are surprised to hear that the death penalty is still in place in Kansas.

Technically, you can receive capital punishment for capital murder, where there are aggravating factors to the murder like the age of occupation of the victim. 

However, this punishment has not actually been used since 1965 and life imprisonment is the sentence handed down in most cases.

You won’t be surprised to hear that penalties are harsh for any type of murder:

  • First-degree murder is an off-grid person felony that can lead to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 25 years
  • Intentional second-degree murder is a level-one person felony that can result in 12 ½ to 54 years in prison
  • Unintentional second-degree murder is a level-two person felony that can result in 9 to 41 years in prison 

Manslaughter charges in Kansas 

The crime of manslaughter in Kansas also carries extremely serious consequences. The charge can be for voluntary or involuntary manslaughter and they carry different penalties. 

The main difference between the two is the state of mind of the accused when the homicide occurred, which affects the level of criminal culpability.

Voluntary manslaughter and the penalties

According to Kansas statute 21-5404, voluntary manslaughter is knowingly killing a human being committed:

(1) Upon a sudden quarrel or in the heat of passion; or

(2) upon an unreasonable but honest belief that circumstances existed that justified use of deadly force.

Voluntary manslaughter is a level-three person felony and is punishable by a fine of up to $300,000 and prison time of up to 61 months.

Involuntary manslaughter and the penalties

Kansas statute 21-5405 defines involuntary manslaughter as the killing a human being committed:

(1) Recklessly;

(2) in the commission of, or attempt to commit, or flight from any felony, other than an inherently dangerous felony;

(3) in the commission of, or attempt to commit, or flight from an act described in K.S.A. 8-1567, and amendments thereto; or

(4) during the commission of a lawful act in an unlawful manner.

Involuntary manslaughter is either a level-four or level-five person felony and is punishable by a fine of up to $300,000 and prison time of up to 34 months.

Because the state of mind of the accused at the time of the killing is so critical in manslaughter cases, it is essential to seek the assistance of an experienced defense lawyer. 

A skilled lawyer will often be able to introduce doubts in the prosecution’s case or mitigating factors that lessen the severity of the offense.

With such serious charges as murder and manslaughter, the criminal defense lawyers at ITR Law in Topeka will prepare a rigorous defense and fight aggressively for your freedom.

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