Murder is the most serious crime in Georgia and can carry a life-in-prison sentence with or without parole. There are three different types of murder in the state: malice, first degree, and felony murder. A Newnan murder lawyer can explain these differences in a private consultation.
Felony murder is easier to prove than malice murder because it does not require any type of intent. However, there are several things that must be present for this charge to be successful.
Table of Contents
A significant difference between murder and manslaughter (which Georgia law distinguishes as voluntary manslaughter and misdemeanor manslaughter) is that in order to be guilty of felony murder, the defendant must have premeditated the killing. This means the murderer must have planned to kill and must have expressed malice for the victim.
This malice could come in many forms. For example, a husband may have planned for months to kill his wife by poisoning her food or a gang member might plan to assistance a rival with the ultimate goal of murdering him.
Any death that occurs during the commission of a felony or in the course of fleeing from the commission of a felony can be charged as murder. Felony murder carries severe penalties and can result in life imprisonment or the death penalty. Fortunately, there are several ways to defend against this charge. For instance, you might argue that the murder was unrelated to the underlying felony.
In Georgia, prosecutors can prosecute defendants for either malice murder or felony murder. The former requires prosecutors to prove that a person intended to kill, while the latter does not require that intent. Both charges can carry life sentences in Georgia.
A good Felony Murder Defense in Georgia attorney could argue that the death of a victim occurred as a result of the commission of a felony. However, the state must also prove that the felony that a person was committing directly caused or substantially accelerated the victim’s death.
The state’s Felony Murder statute is an awful kludge that can be used to convict people of killing someone. In a recent case, a father and son were found guilty of felony murder, aggravated assault and other crimes in the death of Ahmaud Arbery. The men were convicted for allegedly participating in the aggravated assault that led to Arbery’s death, but not for intentionally killing him. This is because the felony that the three men were convicted of did not require an intent to kill.
Intent to Kill
Intent is a fundamental part of murder, and your lawyer could argue that the Prosecution does not have sufficient evidence to prove you had malice. Malice consists of the intention to take a life without legal justification or mitigation. The State needs to demonstrate that you planned the killing with knowledge that it was substantially likely that death would occur or that you acted with an abandoned and malignant heart.
The State also needs to demonstrate that you developed the malice, or intent to kill, before you committed the underlying felony. However, the law in Georgia does not require the prosecution to prove that you consciously formed this intent. Moreover, the felony murder statute does not require that you intended to kill the victim specifically; it only requires that your killing cause the death of someone during the commission of the underlying felony. This concept is known as transferred intent. Your lawyer may argue that the intent was directed to the felony rather than the victim.
In Georgia, you can be convicted of murder even without malice. There is a statute for “felony murder,” which only requires that a person’s death happen during the commission of an underlying felony. Any felony, including aggravated assault, cruelty to children, burglary, armed robbery, arson, and more could trigger this charge.
Fortunately, there are ways to defend against this type of charge. The crime and the death were unrelated: If you can demonstrate that the murder did not occur during the felony, or happened significantly before or after the felony occurred, then you may be able to have your charge lowered.
It is also possible to raise a defense of self-defense or necessity. This can be difficult to prove since the accused must have been committing a crime at the time of the killing, but it has been successful in some cases.