Homicide cases are criminal proceedings that result in the death of a human being. The person who commits the homicide is called the “defendant” or “killer”. It’s important to understand how these proceedings work, especially if you’ve been accused of committing homicide because they are so different from other crimes.
What follows is an explanation of the process that can’t possibly cover all bases, because every case has different circumstances. But hopefully, this will answer enough questions to give you a basic understanding.
Hiring A Lawyer
This is always one of the first things you should do if you find yourself under investigation for homicide. Without the legal support of a skilled attorney, it is virtually impossible to navigate these proceedings.
The prosecutions in Kansas City have an entire team of attorneys at their disposal for building and presenting the case against you. Hiring a professional, criminal defense attorney Wichita Ks, from a firm with experience in homicide cases, is the best way to start building your defense case. An experienced lawyer can work with both information about your case and experiences to give you his or her opinion on what you might be facing.
The Trial Process
It starts with an arrest and complaint that’s filed against someone who’s accused of committing homicide. The complaint contains specific information about why the person is being charged with murder, which can include first-degree murder, second-degree murder, or manslaughter (referred to as voluntary or involuntary). All states have different names for the various degrees of crime, so it’s important to know what your state calls them.
The next step is the arraignment, which is where the defendant formally hears what he’s been accused of and what criminal charges have been filed against him. The defendant enters a plea at this point, usually either “guilty” or “not guilty.” If he pleads not guilty and demands a jury trial, the case will proceed to pre-trial hearings.
The Pre-trial Hearings
Several different hearings take place before the trial begins. During each hearing, one side tries to gather new evidence while another tries to suppress incriminating evidence from being used in court. You can’t try to gather certain kinds of information if you know it will get thrown out, so it’s extremely important to understand your rights in this process. This is where many defense attorneys can make or break a case on homicide charges.
The discovery process begins with the suspect being told about the evidence against him and what witnesses might be called upon to testify. During this time, prosecutors must turn over all discovered evidence that they plan to use at trial – both evidence that helps the defendant’s case and evidence that helps build their case. This includes witness statements, names of expert witnesses (such as forensic experts), police reports, recordings of interrogations, photographs… pretty much any piece of information gathered by investigators during their investigation.
Defense attorneys can object to these pieces of evidence if there’s nothing to back up the information, if they’re unclear or misleading, or if they’ve been obtained illegally (without a warrant for example). The hearing officer decides whether to allow the evidence based on these guidelines.
Once both sides have submitted all their evidence and pre-trial motions are completed, it’s time for the trial to begin.
This is where everything comes together. The judge has ruled on what pieces of evidence can be presented during this phase, so prosecutors now use only those pieces of information to build their case against you.
Prosecutors will call witnesses to tell what they saw or heard during the crime, including key testimony about how the specific event took place. The defense may also call witnesses – usually family members who can give testimony about the defendant’s character or what kind of person he is, but that depends on the nature of each case. A defense attorney can also use pre-trial motions to suppress evidence collected illegally. This means they ask the judge to “throw out” incriminating evidence because it was collected without a warrant for example, which is illegal under most circumstances.
After all, witnesses have been heard and all evidence has been submitted into court, both sides make closing statements about their side of the story before jury members are given time to deliberate over whether or not there’s enough reason to convict you.
This entire process can take anywhere from a few months to years, depending on the state in which you’re currently being prosecuted. Don’t be afraid to ask your attorney any questions about what’s going on because they should be able to update you along the way.
Homicide is one of the most serious cases that someone can face, so it’s important to know how much work goes into preparing for each case. Look over this guide often because several things can happen along the way which you’ll want to know about right away. Stay informed and get in touch with a professional attorney that can help you to get through this difficult time in your life.