The night in question may be a blur to you. Perhaps you were not even there at all and are baffled at why police arrested you. However, investigators and witnesses have placed you at the scene, and now you are looking at criminal charges that could jeopardize your freedom and the rest of your life.
If you are facing accusations of taking someone else's life, you have every right to be concerned. Criminal homicide carries some of the harshest penalties in the justice system. Depending on the type of criminal homicide with which police have charged you, your very life could be at risk.
Murder and the death penalty
Kansas is one of the few states where the death penalty is still legal. Proponents believe it deters crime and is a just way to punish those who commit particularly violent acts. Authorities rarely carry out an execution, and the sentence is reserved for the most serious convictions: murder with aggravating circumstances.
To murder someone is to intentionally kill him or her or to kill while intentionally trying to harm someone. To add aggravating circumstances means prosecutors believe there were even more heinous elements to the murder. For example, authorities may believe you were involved in any of the following aggravating factors:
- Murder of a law enforcement officer
- Murder during a kidnapping
- Murder committed during the kidnapping of a minor to commit a sex crime
- Contracted murder
- Murder during a rape or other sexual crime
- Multiple murders connected with the same scheme
- Murder in a correctional facility
These circumstances may raise charges against you from murder to capital murder, which means the prosecution will attempt to seek the death penalty. If none of these factors is present in your case, you may face a first-degree murder charge. This still means you face accusations of having murdered someone with intention and premeditation. It also requires that the murder took place in relation to the commission of a dangerous felony, such as:
- Felony theft
First-degree murder does not warrant capital punishment, but you will face the potential for life in prison if you are convicted. To seek a life or death sentence for a crime means your opponents have gathered evidence they believe is strong enough to convict you. For this reason, it is critical to have a skilled and experienced attorney on your side.