Charged With First-Degree Murder?

A first-degree murder charge is one of the scariest charges to meet effectively in any state, particularly in Minnesota. If indicted, the penalties will be severe and profoundly life altering.

Attorney William J. Mauzy has won more than 100 trials for clients facing state and federal charges. Call our Minneapolis homicide defense lawyer — 612-444-9466.

What is first-degree murder?

First-degree murder is defined most simply as the intentional, pre-meditated, and effective killing of another human person. A charge of first degree murder is incurred by homicide in addition to aggravating factors.

  • Intentionally causing the death of a human being in any activity related to kidnapping, assault, or tampering with the effective enforcement of the law (either by assaulting police personnel, jury members, judges, or prison employees.)
  • Causing death coupled with committing sexual violence on the victim
  • Causing death coupled with burglary, selling controlled substances, or escaping from incarceration
  • Causing the death of a child or willfully neglecting the wellbeing of a minor such that their death results
  • Causing death in any way related to terrorism or felonious misconduct

What are the penalties for first-degree murder?

Although first-degree murder is one of the most heinous and weighty charges, it does not carry the death penalty in Minnesota, since Minnesota eliminated capital punishment in 1911. The mandatory sentence for an indictment of first-degree murder in Minnesota is life imprisonment. Depending on the severity of the aggravating factors and the age of the defendant, the judge may or may not grant the possibility of parole at his or her discretion.

Responding effectively to such an onerous criminal charge requires expert legal aid. The most effective defense will depend on the facts of the case. In some instances, pleading self-defense, insanity, or innocence will be effective if the defendant can convince the judge and jury that they are completely guilty. These defenses are thus known as "complete". Another approach is to claim partial innocence. These "incomplete" defenses plead that the defendant was impaired or exercising poor judgment, as would be the case in murder committed while intoxicated or in overly enthusiastic self-defense. These defenses may demote the charge to one of second or third degree murder, or manslaughter.