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Possible defenses to first-degree murder criminal charge

Being arrested and charged with a crime is likely one of the most overwhelming experiences a Spokane resident can face. Securing a criminal defense attorney is a proactive step that anyone facing a criminal charge can take when charged with a homicide offense.

Some defendants may wonder what defenses are available for the most severe type of felony: first-degree murder. Some may believe that such a severe charge will result in a conviction due to the zeal of prosecutors or bias of a jury, but this is not always a foregone conclusion. There may be effective defenses to first-degree murder. Depending on the unique circumstances of each criminal case, a Spokane criminal defense attorney may be able to utilize one or more defenses during a criminal trial.

Generally, there are two categories of first-degree murder defenses. One is that the defendant did not perform the killing in question, while the other is that the defendant did perform the killing but that the act was not first-degree murder. Typically, this second category is used when, for example the defendant has admitted to a killing. If the defendant has admitted to such an act, defenses may include self-defense, the defense of a third party or parties, an accidental fatal injury or a killing which occurred during an act of duty.

If a defendant has not admitted to killing another, defenses may include alleging that the prosecution has charged the wrong individual. Even in today's criminal justice world, advancements such as DNA testing are not infallible and may not even be involved in every case. It is still very possible that a prosecution will charge the wrong person with a felony crime and in such instances a defendant's rights are paramount. Another defense is that the prosecution has failed to prove all of the elements of first-degree murder. In criminal cases, the burden of proof lies with the prosecution, not the defense.

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