If someone winds up facing criminal charges in connection with the loss of another person’s life, that person has a lot at stake, including his or her freedom. Facing a murder charge is serious no matter what the circumstances. In Minnesota there are first-, second- and third-degree murder statutes. Beyond that there are also two manslaughter statutes that could apply in certain scenarios. The specific statute that applies depends on the facts alleged.
First-degree murder is a premediated killing, meaning the perpetrator thought or planned for it beforehand. Second-degree murder involves killing a person intentionally but without the premeditation required of first-degree cases. Third-degree cases occur when the perpetrator acts with depravity for human life (shooting into a crowd, for example), or sells, gives or administers a Schedule I or II substance to someone who dies as a result.
There are also two manslaughter statutes in this state, covering both voluntary and involuntary acts. However, a murder charged under these statues is considered unintentional, though still quite serious. Nevertheless, a criminal charge is just that – an accusation and nothing more. The defendant is presumed innocent unless and until he or she is convicted by credible evidence in court and beyond a reasonable doubt.
No matter what degree of murder is charged, the accused individual is entitled to due process of law, which includes the opportunity to contest the charges in court. Because the penalties for murder are understandably severe, it is always best to seek guidance and support from an experienced criminal defense attorney at the earliest possible opportunity. Too much is at stake to consider otherwise.