First-degree murder is one of the most serious offenses you can commit in Mississippi or the United States in general, but that does not mean it is without its defenses. From arguing your innocence to claiming insanity, there are several defense options that a skilled criminal defense attorney can help you explore. FindLaw explains those defenses in brief.
One of the most common defenses to murder is mistaken identity. You may argue that the witnesses wrongly identified you or that law enforcement wrongly charged you. To support this defense, you need evidence. An alibi is the best form of evidence, though the state may refute the defense with evidence placing you at the scene of the crime at the time of the murder. However, an alibi is a good place to start.
If mistaken identity is not an option, arguing that the state did not prove all the elements of murder may also suffice. For the state to convict you of the crime, it must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you killed another person, acted with the specific intent to do so, deliberated your actions and premeditated the crime. If your attorney can create reasonable doubt surrounding one or more elements, the state does not have a first-degree murder case.
You may also argue that you killed the victim accidentally. Accidental killings do not constitute murder but rather, as involuntary manslaughter. However, if the homicide occurred while you were committing another crime, the charge will remain elevated at first or second-degree murder.
Some defendants attempt to justify their actions. Depending on state laws, these justifications result in an acquittal. Common justifications include self-defense, defense of others and exercise of duties.
Most states recognize the insanity defense. Insanity, for the purposes of determining one’s criminal liability, refers to the cognitive disability to recognize the criminal nature of an act or to appreciate the quality of the act one commits.
You should not use this article as legal advice. It is for educational purposes only.