When a death occurs and non-capital charges are brought against an individual as a result, Alabama law recognizes three levels of culpability, and three separate offenses that can be charged. These charges are, in descending order of seriousness, Murder, Manslaughter, and Criminally Negligent Homicide. This article will give you an overview of Alabama’s laws in this area, what the state must prove to get a conviction on each, and what the possible punishment is upon conviction.
MURDER – Code of Alabama Section 13A-6-2
A person commits the crime of murder under Alabama law if he or she does any of the following: “With intent to cause the death of another person, he or she causes the death of that person or of another person; Under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to human life, he or she recklessly engages in conduct which creates a grave risk of death to a person other than himself or herself, and thereby causes the death of another person; He or she commits or attempts to commit arson in the first degree, burglary in the first or second degree, escape in the first degree, kidnapping in the first degree, rape in the first degree, robbery in any degree, sodomy in the first degree, aggravated child abuse, or any other felony clearly dangerous to human life and, in the course of and in furtherance of the crime that he or she is committing or attempting to commit, or in immediate flight therefrom, he or she, or another participant if there be any, causes the death of any person; He or she commits the crime of arson and a qualified governmental or volunteer firefighter or other public safety officer dies while performing his or her duty resulting from the arson.”
However, a person does not commit murder under the first two ways in the paragraph above if he or she was moved to act “by a sudden heat of passion caused by provocation recognized by law, and before there had been a reasonable time for the passion to cool and for reason to reassert itself.”
Murder is a Class A felony and the possible prison sentence range is 20-99 years or life in prison, but under certain circumstances death or life imprisonment without parole may also be a possible sentence.
MANSLAUGHTER – Code of Alabama Section 13A-6-3
A person commits the crime of manslaughter if he “recklessly causes the death of another person” or “under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to human life, he or she recklessly engages in conduct which creates a grave risk of death and thereby causes the death except that he caused the death due to a sudden heat of passion caused by provocation and before a reasonable time for the passion to cool and for reason to reassert itself.”
Manslaughter is a Class B felony and the possible prison sentence is 2-20 years.
CRIMINALLY NEGLIGENT HOMICIDE – Code of Alabama Section 13A-6-4
A person commits the crime of criminally negligent homicide if he or she causes the death of another person by criminal negligence.
Under the Code of Alabama Section 13A-2-2, criminal negligence is defined as failing to perceive a substantial and unjustifiable risk that the result will occur or that the circumstance exists. The risk must be of such nature and degree that the failure to perceive it constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of care that a reasonable person would observe in the situation.
Criminally negligent homicide is a Class A misdemeanor and the sentence must be for not more than 1 year in the county jail.
This information is intended as a general guide to the law. It is not intended to substitute for getting the advice of an experienced lawyer who works with these laws on a daily basis. Skier & Associates can be reached anytime to discuss the specific facts of your case. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (334) 263-4105 now.
As always, it is best to consult with a lawyer specializing in this area before making any decisions or determinations about your case. At Skier & Associates we are available to discuss your case, offer advice on your best course of action, and discuss representation when your case goes to court.