Homicide/ Murder and Manslaughter Defense Lawyers in Myrtle Beach, SC
If you have been charged with murder in SC, you need an experienced and seasoned criminal defense lawyer on your case immediately.
Even after the arrest, the State is aggressively investigating your case and preparing your case for trial. You need a defense team who will do the same.
If you are charged with murder, prosecutors and law enforcement want you in prison. In capital cases, they want you dead.
Because murder is the most serious crime you could have been charged with under SC law, the alleged victim’s family, friends, and community want vengeance, and local media outlets are putting intense pressure on the solicitor – an elected official – to solve the case and get a conviction.
From day one, your attorney on the Axelrod team will begin investigating the facts of your case and the witnesses against you, employing a private investigator and expert witnesses when needed, and preparing your case for trial.
Murder Charges in SC
To get a murder conviction in SC, the prosecution must prove that 1) there was an unlawful killing, 2) with malice aforethought, either express or implied.
Malice aforethought is the specific intent that the State must prove in a homicide case, and, surprisingly, it does not always mean an intent to kill. Malice aforethought can be proven by:
- Intent to kill,
- Intent to inflict grievous bodily harm,
- A reckless indifference to the value of human life, or
- Intent to commit a felony, when the felony resulted in someone’s death – this is called “felony murder” in SC.
Self Defense and SC’s Stand Your Ground Law
Self defense is the most common defense to murder charges, but there are other complete defenses to murder including defense of others or accident.
Self defense and defense of others are called “justifiable homicide,” and SC’s law of self defense has been codified in our Stand Your Ground law, also known as the Protection of Persons and Property Act.
If someone is attempting to force their way into or remove you from your home or vehicle, or a home or vehicle where you have a right to be, you have the right to defend yourself using means up to and including deadly force. You do not have a duty to retreat.
If you attacked while you are in any place where you have a right to be, you have the right to defend yourself, using deadly force if necessary, and you do not have a duty to retreat.
If this applies to you, you have immunity from prosecution and the right to request a pretrial hearing to ask the court to dismiss your charges before you face trial for murder.
Possible Outcomes of Murder/Homicide Charges
What are the possible outcomes if you are charged with murder?
- You could be convicted and sentenced to no less than 30 years in prison, as much as life in prison without the possibility of parole, or, in a capital murder case, death,
- Your case could be dismissed before trial based on our investigation, in the interest of justice, or because the court found that you were entitled to immunity under the Protection of Persons and Property Act,
- You could be convicted of a lesser included offense like voluntary manslaughter or involuntary manslaughter, or
- You could be acquitted by a jury of your peers.
Manslaughter Charges in SC
In some cases, law enforcement will charge someone with manslaughter instead of murder, or a jury could find a person guilty of manslaughter as a lesser included offense of murder.
Whereas murder/homicide is 1) an unlawful killing 2) with malice aforethought, manslaughter is 1) an unlawful killing 2) without malice. There are two types of manslaughter in SC, and each requires different elements of proof.
Voluntary manslaughter is 1) an unlawful killing 2) in the heat of passion 3) upon sufficient legal provocation. What does that mean?
Although voluntary manslaughter does not require proof of malice aforethought, it does require proof of an intent to kill. It requires that the killing happened after the alleged victim provoked the defendant (sufficient legal provocation – this would not include the victim acting in self defense) and the defendant flew into a rage (the heat of passion).
Voluntary manslaughter, although a lesser crime than murder, still carries up to 30 years in prison and has a mandatory minimum sentence of two years.
Involuntary manslaughter, unlike voluntary manslaughter, does not require an intent to kill – it only requires proof of criminal negligence (a reckless disregard for the safety of others). It also requires proof that:
- The person killed someone while they were engaged in an illegal activity that would not ordinarily result in death, or
- The person killed someone while they were engaged in an otherwise lawful activity.
Involuntary manslaughter has a maximum penalty of five years in prison, with no mandatory minimum sentence.
Either voluntary or involuntary manslaughter could be a lesser included offense of murder/homicide, depending on the facts of the case and the evidence presented during trial.
Your murder/homicide defense lawyer at Axelrod and Associates knows the local courts, attorneys, prosecutors, officers, criminal procedures, and criminal laws, and has access to investigators and experts to assist with any issue that may arise in your case.
We have experience with murder prosecutions at all levels of the court system in SC, including murder trials, capital murder prosecutions, post-conviction relief (PCR) proceedings, and appeals.
If you have been charged with murder/homicide or manslaughter in SC or believe that you are under investigation, call 843-353-3449 now or complete our contact form to set up a free initial consultation.