Have You Been Charged With Felony Murder in Georgia?
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Author: Philip Kim, Founder, Philip Kim Law, P.C.
Defense lawyer Philip Kim has committed his career to standing up for the accused, and protecting the rights and reputations of his valued clients. If you face criminal charges in Georgia, we can provide you with the skilled, effective defense representation you need.
Published on March 31, 2023.
The Low Down on Felony Murder in Georgia
Defending yourself against felony murder charges in Georgia requires understanding the nature of the charges and the potential penalties you could face.
Violent crimes such as felony murder are serious offenses that should not be taken lightly. If convicted of felony murder, a defendant may face severe penalties, including life in prison or the death penalty.
This article explores what constitutes felony murder in Georgia, the potential penalties for this offense, and some possible defenses you can use.
If you require legal assistance in Georgia, consider contacting Gwinnett County criminal lawyers for access to our experienced and empathic team.
The State of Georgia defines murder as the intentional and premeditated killing of another human being. During a criminal trial, the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant had the criminal intent to cause the death of another human being. In Latin, this is called mens rea, which literally translates to “guilty mind.”
When a person commits a murder while in the heat of passion, this is defined as voluntary manslaughter. In contrast, involuntary manslaughter is the killing of another person recklessly or in the commission of a misdemeanor.
Felony Murder Charges in Georgia
Felony murder under Georgia’s criminal code is defined as killing another person while committing a specified felony, regardless of whether the killing was deliberate or accidental.
These types of felonies include:
If a death occurs during the commission of one of these felonies, anyone involved in the commission of the underlying felony can be charged with felony murder, regardless of criminal intent or whether they were the ones who caused the death.
Like all crimes, the State must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused is guilty of felony murder. In Georgia, this includes showing that the accused attempted or completed a serious or inherently dangerous felony. For the underlying felony to have been committed, all of the elements of that crime must be present.
Is there a Statute of Limitations for Felony Murder in Georgia?
The statute of limitations for criminal charges in Georgia varies depending on the type of offense. For example, for violent crimes such as murder, felony murder, rape, kidnapping, and armed robbery, there is no statute of limitations in Georgia.
This means a person can be charged with these crimes at any time, even if many years have passed since the alleged offense occurred.
More information about this can be found in our guide titled the Georgia Statute of Limitations: Criminal.
Defenses to Felony Murder in Georgia
Several defenses may be available to someone charged with felony murder in Georgia. These defenses may include the following:
- The crime committed was not a felony: By definition, the crime must have been a felony or an inherently dangerous crime – if the crime was not, you could seek a lesser charge.
- Self-defense or necessity: It is difficult to raise this defense since the accused was in the process of committing a crime. However, it has been successfully raised where it has been demonstrated that although the accused committed a felony or was in the process of committing a felony, an event occurred that forced the accused to kill the victim.
- The murder was unrelated to the felony: If you can prove that the murder and the felony are unrelated, the charge can be reduced to murder, which carries significantly less severe penalties. An example would be a case where the murder happened much earlier or later than the felony.
- Death was not reasonably foreseeable: Georgian law requires that death must have been reasonably foreseeable due to the felony. If this is not the case, the charges could be lowered.
- There is insufficient evidence for a felony murder conviction: The State must prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt. The prosecution must have evidence to establish the elements of the underlying felony. If they cannot do this, the charge of felony murder cannot be sustained.
- Alibi or witness testimony: If you have an alibi or witness testimony that you were not at the scene of the crime, this can be raised as a defense.
Penalties for Felony Murder Sentences
A felony murder conviction carries either life imprisonment without the possibility of parole or the death penalty. It is classified as first-degree murder.
The decision on whether to seek the death penalty is typically left up to the prosecutor, who will consider factors such as the defendant’s prior criminal record, the nature of the offense, and the severity of the victim’s injuries.
How Can Our Criminal Lawyers at Philip Kim Law, P.C. Assist?
It is important to note that each case is unique, and the specific defenses that may be available to you will depend on the circumstances of your case. For example, if you are facing a felony murder charge or have been charged with other criminal charges, including DUI, drug offenses, white-collar crimes, Aggravated assault in Georgia, and other violent crimes.
Our skilled and experienced attorney offers aggressive and professional representation. We have a proven track record of success and a commitment to client service. Call us today for a free consultation.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is the Punishment for Murder?
In Georgia, the punishment for murder can vary depending on the circumstances of the person convicted of the offense. First-degree murder is punishable by either life imprisonment without parole or the death penalty. In contrast, second-degree murder is punishable by life imprisonment with the possibility of parole after 30 years.
Can a Child Be Sentenced for Murder?
In Georgia, anyone over 13 can be charged as an adult for murder. However, there are some limitations on when a child can be sentenced to life imprisonment without parole for murder. In 2012, the Supreme Court ruled that mandatory life sentences without parole for juveniles are unconstitutional. As a result, courts must consider the individual circumstances of the case and the offender before sentencing a juvenile to life imprisonment without parole.
What Is the Applicable Law for Murder in Georgia?
Georgia Code, Title 16, Chapter 5, Article 1 outlines the different types of homicide offenses, including murder, felony murder, voluntary manslaughter, involuntary manslaughter, and feticide.
Georgia law also specifies the penalties for each type of homicide offense, including imprisonment for life, life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, or the death penalty.