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Maryland Homicide Lawyer

Homicide and manslaughter are among the most consequential of criminal charges that can be brought forth in the state of Maryland. Murder in the first degree, second degree, and manslaughter can all result in felony convictions, for which the penalties range from fines and years of jail time to life in prison without the possibility of parole. If you’ve been charged with one of these crimes, you owe it to yourself to seek the legal counsel of a qualified, reputable Maryland homicide lawyer, who will examine the specifics of your case in order to create the strongest possible legal defense. En Español.

Charges related to homicide or manslaughter can be very daunting for your future. Our Maryland criminal defense attorneys can help. Please call to speak with a manslaughter attorney for a free consultation.

Maryland Murder and Manslaughter Law

Homicide, manslaughter and related crimes are covered by Title 2, Subtitles 1 through 5 of the Maryland Criminal Law Code. If you’re convicted of murder or a similar crime in Maryland, you could face up to life in prison, as well as a felony reflected on your permanent record. An existing felony conviction, especially one resulting from a violent crime, can make it extremely arduous to obtain housing or employment in the future. With the assistance of an experienced Maryland lawyer, you can fight murder charges to the utmost extent possible. This could result in the reduction of your charges, or even the dismissal of your case entirely.

First Degree Murder

First degree murder, covered by Maryland Criminal Law Code § 2-201, is defined as a willful, premeditated and deliberate killing. It can be committed by lying in wait, poisoning, arson, burglary in any degree, carjacking either armed or unarmed, escape from a correctional facility, kidnapping, mayhem, rape, robbery, first or second degree sexual assault, sodomy or destructive devices.
The penalty associated with first degree murder is outlined by criminal code § 2-201(b), and includes a felony conviction as well as life in prison, either with or without the possibility of parole. Until 2013 Maryland law allowed for the possibility of the death penalty, but on May 2, 2013, Governor Martin O’Malley signed into effect legislation banning state prosecution’s ability to seek capital punishment, although existing sentences were not commuted.  Which sentence the state pursues – life in prison with parole or life in prison without parole – depends on the specific circumstances of the crime.

Is Life in Prison with No Possibility of Parole Likely?

The penalty of life imprisonment with no chance of parole is covered by Maryland Criminal Law Code § 2-203. This code states that life in prison without the possibility of parole for first degree murder can only imposed as a sentence if the State makes it clear in writing at least 30 days before the trial that they intend to seek this sentence. The written documentation must be provided to the defendant. The State must also remain in compliance with § 2-304, which states that the jury must make this determination unanimously. If even one juror votes against life without the possibility of parole, the sentence will be imprisonment for life with the possibility of parole. This is one reason why it’s so important to have a reputable Maryland lawyer by your side, even if you are ultimately found guilty of murder or manslaughter.

Attempted First Degree Murder

Attempted murder in the first degree is covered by criminal code § 2-205. According to this code, any individual who attempts to commit first degree murder can be found guilty of a felony. The associated penalty is imprisonment of up to life.

Second Degree Murder

Second degree murder in Maryland is covered by state criminal code § 2-204. This code defines any murder that does not qualify as first degree murder as second degree murder instead. For example, a homicide would likely be classified as second degree murder if it was not premeditated, if it was not willful, or if it was not deliberate.
Second degree murder is a felony, and as per state code § 2-204(b), the convicted is subject to a prison term of up to 30 years.

How is Attempted Second Degree Murder Defined?

Attempted murder in the second degree is covered by criminal code § 2-206. This code states that a person found guilty of attempted second degree murder will receive a felony conviction, as well as a prison sentence of up to 30 years.

The distinction between attempted second degree murder and aggravated assault, for example, can often represent a legal gray area. This is another reason why it’s so crucial to have a reputable Maryland homicide lawyer at your side during every step of your legal battle.


Manslaughter is covered by Maryland state code § 2-207, and is defined as killing another individual without malice aforethought, whereas first and second degree murder are defined as killing another individual with some malice aforethought. For example, accidentally shooting a gun and striking and killing another individual could be charged as manslaughter in Maryland.
The penalty associated with manslaughter, defined under code § 2-207(a), is a felony as well as a prison sentence of up to 10 years, or imprisonment in a local jail not to exceed 2 years, a fine of up to $500.00, or both. The severity of the punishment depends on the nature of the crime, the strength of the legal defense brought by your Maryland manslaughter attorney, and the discretion of the court.

According to code § 2-207(b), spousal adultery is not considered a mitigating factor in whether a killing is charged as murder or manslaughter. In other words, if you discover your spouse having sexual intercourse with another individual, any resulting killing can still be charged as first or second degree murder as opposed to manslaughter, even if the killing was directly provoked by said discovery.

Manslaughter by Vehicle or Vessel

Maryland state code § 2-209 makes it illegal to kill another individual as the result of driving, operating or otherwise controlling a vessel or vehicle in a grossly negligent manner. According to code § 2-209(a), a vehicle is defined as a motor vehicle, train, locomotive, streetcar or engine. The associated charge is manslaughter as opposed to first or second degree murder, so long as the killing was unintentional but carried out due to gross negligence.
The penalty associated with manslaughter by vehicle, as per state code § 2-209(d), is a felony as well as a fine of up to $5,000, imprisonment for up to 10 years, or both.

Charging Documents

State code § 2-208 defines the requirements for charging documents related to murder and manslaughter. According to this code, the indictment must substantially state “(name of defendant) on (date) in (county) feloniously (willfully and with deliberately premeditated malice) killed (and murdered) (name of victim) against the peace, government, and dignity of the State.”
The indictment is not required to include how the victim was killed.

How a Maryland Homicide Attorney Can Help

Being charged with first degree murder, second degree murder or manslaughter in Maryland is extremely serious, and represents a legal journey that you should never be required to take alone, or even with the assistance of an inexperienced, under-qualified legal representative. By hiring a reputable Maryland homicide lawyer with an excellent track record of success, you can feel confident in knowing that you’ll receive the best possible outcome in your case.

Maryland Homicide Lawyer