Murder & Manslaughter

In Louisiana, in many cases, a person charged with homicide a homicide offense can get a mandatory life sentence, if convicted at trial. And in most cases, they will not be eligible for any parole. It’s no exaggeration to say that your life is on the line when you’ve been arrested and charged with homicide in Louisiana. However, you may have legal arguments and defenses available to you that can result in a dismissal or reduction of the charges against you, or an acquittal or not guilty verdict at trial. A knowledgeable and experienced criminal defense lawyer can review the charges against you and let you know your best options for a positive outcome in your case.

All murder charges have a specific intent element that must be proven, and this is often one of the most difficult elements for prosecutors to prove. With manslaughter, prosecutors must prove the killing was in sudden passion or heat of blood immediately caused by provocation sufficient to deprive an average person of his self-control and cool reflection, or the homicide was committed, without any intent to cause death or great bodily harm. The state bears the burden of proving all the elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt, and defendants have many ways to challenge evidence or raise reasonable doubt about the prosecution’s case. Persons charged with any homicide, murder or manslaughter, may also have a number of defenses available, including self-defense. Louisiana law also recognizes negligent or vehicular homicide in certain situations.

Homicide offenses often fall into a sort of hierarchy, with less serious crimes included as “lesser included offenses” of more serious crimes.

In Louisiana, homicide is defined as the killing of a human being by the act, procurement, or culpable omission of another. Criminal homicide is of five grades:

  1. First degree murder.
  2. Second degree murder.
  3. Manslaughter.
  4. Negligent homicide.
  5. Vehicular homicide.

This means that one can be convicted of a lesser crime than what was initially charged, if the evidence only supports a conviction on the lesser crime. This fact can work for or against a defendant, depending on the circumstances. Your attorney will work to get you the best outcome available, which in some cases may be a conviction or plea to a lesser included offense. Where possible, your lawyer will work to have charges reduced or dropped, get inadmissible evidence suppressed, and secure a not guilty verdict at trial.

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