In Colorado, there are three different statutes that pertain to what someone might consider murder, however, each definition differs and carries different penaltiesbif convicted. It is important to understand the distinctions of each type so you have a better understanding of what the possible consequences are that accompany the charges. As well, it is important to have the strength of an relentless Denver murder attorney on your side.
First-Degree Murder is murder committed after deliberation and with the intent to cause the death of the other person. This premeditation means that the government must prove that the accused thought about killing the victim before killing them. All forms of First-Degree Murder must contain premeditation to be considered First-Degree Murder.
Common forms of First-Degree Murder are a deliberate and intentional killing of another person, extreme indifference murder where the charge does not target an individual but rather has an extreme indifference to life itself, or felony murder where murder is committed while another felony act is being carried out.
First-Degree Murder is a Class I Felony in Colorado which carries the highest possible penalties if convicted. If you are found guilty, you are charged with a minimum sentence of life in prison and a maximum of death with no accompanying parole period.
In addition to First-Degree Murder, First-Degree Murder of a Peace Officer or Fireman is a Class I Felony. This charge also requires premeditation and then carrying out of homicide against a peace officer or fireman. This charge carries the same penalties as First-Degree Murder, a minimum of life in prison and a maximum of death.
Second-Degree Murder differs from First-Degree Murder in that it does not require you to have deliberated and intended to kill the victim. Second-Degree Murder requires that you know that the act will likely cause the death of another person. Something to note about Second-Degree Murder is that it is known as a “general intent” crime which means you do not have to have intended to commit murder to be convicted.
Penalties if you are convicted of Second-Degree Murder are a minimum of 16 years in prison and/or a $5,000 fine to a maximum of 48 years in prison and/or a $1,000,000 fine accompanied by a mandatory 5-year parole period. Second-Degree Murder is an extraordinary risk crime and crime of violence which means the maximum penalties are more than double other Class II Felonies and carries a minimum prison sentence.
If you are convicted of Second-Degree Murder but it is done in the “Heat of Passion”, penalties are reduced from a Class II Felony to a Class III Felony. The penalties for “Heat of Passion” Second-Degree Murder are a minimum of 4 years in prison and/or $3,000 in fines to a maximum of 16 years in prison and/or $750,000 in fines accompanied by a mandatory 5-year parole period.
Manslaughter differs from First- and Second-Degree Murder in that it only requires you to have recklessly caused the death of another person instead of having an intent to or reasonably knowing that your actions could have killed the victim. Manslaughter also includes aiding someone in committing suicide.
Manslaughter is a Class IV Felony in Colorado and carries with it minimum penalties of 2 years in prison and/or $2,000 in fines and a maximum of 6 years in prison and/or $500,000 in fines accompanied by a mandatory 3-year parole period.
There are exceptions for Manslaughter for medical caregivers when care is withheld because of an advanced medical directive, a living will, medical durable power of attorney, or a cardiopulmonary resuscitation directive.
Mr. Krizman is a criminal defense attorney in Denver, Colorado. He specializes in providing relentless defense for domestic violence, DUI, and drug crimes. He is a former public defender who has also worked for a district attorney and is licensed in the State of Colorado, and the United States Federal Court, District of Colorado. Mr. Krizman is a member of the Colorado Criminal Defense Bar, Colorado Bar Association, Denver Bar Association, and Arapahoe County Bar Association. A Colorado native, he has a law degree from the University of Denver Sturm College of Law, and a bachelor’s degree in Government and World Affairs from the University of Tampa. Contact him today at 720.819.7317.