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Grand Junction Manslaughter Defense Lawyers

Accused of Manslaughter in Grand Junction, Colorado?

If you’ve been wrongfully accused of manslaughter, you are experiencing one of the most challenging times of your life. Being accused of taking the life of another person will destroy your reputation, ruin your professional career, and can lead to you spending years in state prison. If convicted, you can face up to six years in prison and a fine of up to $500,000, which is more than enough to devastate the life of a person who is wrongfully accused.

Preparing and executing a strong defense is the best way to avoid conviction and hiring a top-level criminal defense attorney can make the difference between acquittal and jail time. Our criminal defense attorneys at Peters & Nolan, LLC, are professional trial lawyers that are known for their ability to put together creative defenses that result in an acquittal or reduced sentences. Our impressive win-loss ratio in court shows that we know what we’re doing. If you want to talk to our legal team, call our firm at (970) 243-4357 today.

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What Is Manslaughter?

Manslaughter, as defined under the Colorado criminal code section 18-3-104 C.R.S. requires that the alleged criminal:

“A person commits the crime of manslaughter if:

   A. “Recklessly causes the death of another person; or
   B. … Intentionally causes or aids another person to commit suicide”

Key to understanding and defending against manslaughter is the definition of “recklessly.” Legally, you behave recklessly if you are aware that an activity involves substantial and unjustifiable risk, and yet you decide to act anyway. For example, if you were speeding significantly higher than the posted speed limit (which is known to increase the risk of a fatal accident) and this resulted in the death of a passenger, you may be charged with manslaughter.

When it comes to aiding or causing another to commit suicide, you must have knowingly provided someone the tools to commit suicide, or you intentionally cause another to commit suicide. The key to these charges is that you must have knowingly and intentionally performed the actions that led to the suicide. Exceptions are made for medical caregivers and other professionals.

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Murder vs. Manslaughter

People often confuse murder and manslaughter. After all, they are both considered homicide, and are both considered violent crimes. However, the two charges are treated differently under the law. Understanding the differences is essential to building a proper defense.

Manslaughter: In order for someone to be convicted of manslaughter, he must have acted recklessly and thus caused someone else’s death, or he must have intentionally helped caused someone else’s suicide. The key here is that he never intended to kill the alleged victim; or that the alleged victim already intent on killing him or herself. If the suspect killed someone intentionally and against his or her will, then the suspect could not be charged with manslaughter – instead, the suspect would be facing a far harsher crime.

Murder: Murder is an incredibly serious crime and is punished harshly by both the courts and the media. If you are facing a murder charge, then it is unlikely you will walk away with your reputation intact, even if you beat the charges. That is because, unlike manslaughter, when someone is charged with murder, it means that he or she intentionally caused the death of another person. It may have been in the heat of the moment, such as in a bar fight, or planned in advance.

Murder is treated far more harshly than manslaughter. It is always in your best interests to seek a manslaughter charge over a murder charge when possible. Otherwise, you may find yourself facing decades behind bars for murder when you could have been out relatively quickly with a manslaughter conviction.

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The Penalties You May Face

Manslaughter involves taking another person’s life. This kind of crime is considered a class 4 felony in Colorado, which means even after you are released from prison, you will lose certain rights, such as the right to own or use a firearm, the right to certain employment, and the right to travel internationally.

In terms of the direct penalties you face upon conviction, those include:

  • Between two and six years in prison
  • A fine of up to $500,000

The prosecution is unlikely to go easy on you. They will work around the clock to make sure you are convicted. They may even try to add on related offenses to lengthen your prison sentence. When you go to trial, you may not just be defending against a manslaughter charge, but several other crimes as well.

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Understanding Related Charges

All crimes have related charges that are often pursued in court on top of the main charge. For example, if you are being charged with burglary, you may also be charged with theft or assault. These related charges are used to lengthen your sentence once you are convicted, meaning you could be facing a far longer prison sentence than you initially realized. When it comes to manslaughter, there are three other related charges that you may also be facing, all varying in severity. They differ based on your intent and whether you were aware of the risk of death involved:

  • Criminally negligent homicide is the least severe crime, where you are unaware of the risk involved in an incident where your actions cause the death of another.
  • Second-degree murder is when you intentionally cause the death of another in the heat of the moment, without premeditation.
  • First-degree murder is when you intentionally and unlawfully kill another with malice, forethought and premeditation.

Add on a conviction for any of these charges, and your six-year sentence skyrockets to several decades. A skilled attorney, however, can anticipate related charges, and help you defend against them. Working with your legal team is your only chance at getting your charges reduced, or even dropped completely.

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What Defense Can Be Effective Against Charges of Manslaughter?

There are several defenses against charges of manslaughter that can lead to a “not guilty” verdict, a reduced charge, dismissed charge, or lesser sentence. Successfully defending against a manslaughter charge does not require that you prove yourself innocent: it requires that you create enough reasonable doubt that the jury feels you should not be convicted. Always remember, the prosecution has the burden of proof. Some defenses that may help include:

  • The death was an accident, not intentional or intended to harm
  • Your actions were justified as you were acting in self-defense or the defense of others
  • You were unaware of the risks involved
  • You did not commit the crime, a case of mistaken identity
  • Your rights were violated by the police, rendering the evidence against inadmissible

Each case is unique, and many factors can lead to you being wrongfully charged with manslaughter. Eyewitness testimony is often a crucial part of the case against you, and this testimony is often faulty, uncertain, or in conflict with other witness statements. That is why working with a skilled defense team is crucial to getting the best possible outcome in your case. If you go into a trial alone, you will almost certainly lose.

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Contact Us Today

The attorneys at Peters & Nolan, LLC have dedicated decades to defending those who have been wrongfully accused. Our team meticulously reviews each case and compiles creative and effective defense strategies, presented persuasively to the jury. Our clients are treated with compassion, care, and decency, protecting their rights and interests, from start to finish. You deserve to have your defense presented by a talented trial lawyer – there is no question that the quality of your defense is the most critical factor in the outcome of your case. Call us today at (970) 243-4357 to schedule a free consultation.

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Contact us today for a Free Consultation

Call Peters & Nolan, LLC at 970-243-4357 or contact us online today to schedule your free consultation.

About Us

Peters & Nolan, LLC is your ideal source for high quality legal representation throughout the state of Colorado. Known for being personable and responsive, attorneys Andrew J. Peters and Andrew Nolan are aggressive trial lawyers with an excellent record of trying and settling cases in criminal defense, DUI/DWAI and personal injury.

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