Murder Defense Lawyer in New Orleans, Louisiana

Murder Charges in New Orleans

We are highly experienced criminal defense attorneys who represent clients charged with murder in Louisiana.  Murder charges require a detailed understanding and approach to criminal defense. Our criminal lawyers can help you or your family member if they are faced with life in prison.

Murder-related charges in Louisiana

  • First-Degree Murder
  • Second-Degree Murder
  • Manslaughter
  • Negligent Homicide
  • Vehicular Homicide

First-Degree Murder – La RS 14:30

What is First Degree Murder in Louisiana?

A. First degree murder is the killing of a human being:

            (1) When the offender has specific intent to kill or to inflict great bodily harm and is engaged in the perpetration or attempted perpetration of aggravated kidnapping, second degree kidnapping, aggravated escape, aggravated arson, aggravated or first degree rape, forcible or second degree rape, aggravated burglary, armed robbery, assault by drive-by shooting, first degree robbery, second degree robbery, simple robbery, terrorism, cruelty to juveniles, or second degree cruelty to juveniles.

            (2) When the offender has a specific intent to kill or to inflict great bodily harm upon a fireman, peace officer, or civilian employee of the Louisiana State Police Crime Laboratory or any other forensic laboratory engaged in the performance of his lawful duties, or when the specific intent to kill or to inflict great bodily harm is directly related to the victim’s status as a fireman, peace officer, or civilian employee.

            (3) When the offender has a specific intent to kill or to inflict great bodily harm upon more than one person.

            (4) When the offender has specific intent to kill or inflict great bodily harm and has offered, has been offered, has given, or has received anything of value for the killing.

            (5) When the offender has the specific intent to kill or to inflict great bodily harm upon a victim who is under the age of twelve or sixty-five years of age or older.

            (6) When the offender has the specific intent to kill or to inflict great bodily harm while engaged in the distribution, exchange, sale, or purchase, or any attempt thereof, of a controlled dangerous substance listed in Schedules I, II, III, IV, or V of the Uniform Controlled Dangerous Substances Law.

            (7) When the offender has specific intent to kill or to inflict great bodily harm and is engaged in the activities prohibited by R.S. 14:107.1(C)(1).

            (8) When the offender has specific intent to kill or to inflict great bodily harm and there has been issued by a judge or magistrate any lawful order prohibiting contact between the offender and the victim in response to threats of physical violence or harm which was served on the offender and is in effect at the time of the homicide.

            (9) When the offender has specific intent to kill or to inflict great bodily harm upon a victim who was a witness to a crime or was a member of the immediate family of a witness to a crime committed on a prior occasion and:

            (a) The killing was committed for the purpose of preventing or influencing the victim’s testimony in any criminal action or proceeding whether or not such action or proceeding had been commenced; or

            (b) The killing was committed for the purpose of exacting retribution for the victim’s prior testimony.

            (10) When the offender has a specific intent to kill or to inflict great bodily harm upon a taxicab driver who is in the course and scope of his employment. For purposes of this Paragraph, “taxicab” means a motor vehicle for hire, carrying six passengers or less, including the driver thereof, that is subject to call from a garage, office, taxi stand, or otherwise.

            (11) When the offender has a specific intent to kill or inflict great bodily harm and the offender has previously acted with a specific intent to kill or inflict great bodily harm that resulted in the killing of one or more persons.

            (12) When the offender has a specific intent to kill or to inflict great bodily harm upon a correctional facility employee who is in the course and scope of his employment.

            B.(1) For the purposes of Paragraph (A)(2) of this Section, the term “peace officer” means any peace officer, as defined in R.S. 40:2402, and includes any constable, marshal, deputy marshal, sheriff, deputy sheriff, local or state policeman, commissioned wildlife enforcement agent, federal law enforcement officer, jail or prison guard, parole officer, probation officer, judge, attorney general, assistant attorney general, attorney general’s investigator, district attorney, assistant district attorney, or district attorney’s investigator, coroner, deputy coroner, or coroner investigator.

            (2) For the purposes of Paragraph (A)(9) of this Section, the term “member of the immediate family” means a husband, wife, father, mother, daughter, son, brother, sister, stepparent, grandparent, stepchild, or grandchild.

            (3) For the purposes of Paragraph (A)(9) of this Section, the term “witness” means any person who has testified or is expected to testify for the prosecution, or who, by reason of having relevant information, is subject to call or likely to be called as a witness for the prosecution, whether or not any action or proceeding has yet commenced.

            (4) For purposes of Paragraph (A)(12) of this Section, the term “correctional facility employee” means any employee of any jail, prison, or correctional facility who is not a peace officer as defined by the provisions of Paragraph (1) of this Subsection.

Penalties for First-Degree Murder in Louisiana

If the district attorney seeks a capital verdict, the offender shall be punished by death or life imprisonment at hard labor without benefit of parole, probation, or suspension of sentence, in accordance with the determination of the jury. The provisions of Code of Criminal Procedure Article 782 relative to cases in which punishment may be capital shall apply.

If the district attorney does not seek a capital verdict, the offender shall be punished by life imprisonment at hard labor without benefit of parole, probation or suspension of sentence. The provisions of Code of Criminal Procedure Article 782 relative to cases in which punishment is necessarily confinement at hard labor shall apply.

Second-Degree Murder – La RS 14:30.1

What is Second Degree Murder in Louisiana?

Second degree murder is the killing of a human being:

            (1) When the offender has a specific intent to kill or to inflict great bodily harm; or

            (2) When the offender is engaged in the perpetration or attempted perpetration of aggravated or first degree rape, forcible or second degree rape, aggravated arson, aggravated burglary, aggravated kidnapping, second degree kidnapping, aggravated escape, assault by drive-by shooting, armed robbery, first degree robbery, second degree robbery, simple robbery, cruelty to juveniles, second degree cruelty to juveniles, or terrorism, even though he has no intent to kill or to inflict great bodily harm.

            (3) When the offender unlawfully distributes or dispenses a controlled dangerous substance listed in Schedules I through V of the Uniform Controlled Dangerous Substances Law, or any combination thereof, which is the direct cause of the death of the recipient who ingested or consumed the controlled dangerous substance.

            (4) When the offender unlawfully distributes or dispenses a controlled dangerous substance listed in Schedules I through V of the Uniform Controlled Dangerous Substances Law, or any combination thereof, to another who subsequently distributes or dispenses such controlled dangerous substance which is the direct cause of the death of the person who ingested or consumed the controlled dangerous substance.

Penalty for Second Degree Murder in Louisiana

Whoever commits the crime of second degree murder shall be punished by life imprisonment at hard labor without benefit of parole, probation, or suspension of sentence.

Manslaughter in Louisiana – La RS 14:31

What is Manslaughter?

(1)  A homicide which would be murder under either Article 30 (first degree murder) or Article 30.1 (second degree murder), but the offense is committed in sudden passion or heat of blood immediately caused by provocation sufficient to deprive an average person of his self-control and cool reflection.  Provocation shall not reduce a homicide to manslaughter if the jury finds that the offender’s blood had actually cooled, or that an average person’s blood would have cooled, at the time the offense was committed; or

(2)  A homicide committed, without any intent to cause death or great bodily harm.

(a)  When the offender is engaged in the perpetration or attempted perpetration of any felony not enumerated in Article 30 or 30.1, or of any intentional misdemeanor directly affecting the person; or

(b)  When the offender is resisting lawful arrest by means, or in a manner, not inherently dangerous, and the circumstances are such that the killing would not be murder under Article 30 or 30.1.

Penalties for Manslaughter in Louisiana

Whoever commits manslaughter shall be imprisoned at hard labor for not more than forty years.  However, if the victim killed was under the age of ten years, the offender shall be imprisoned at hard labor, without benefit of probation or suspension of sentence, for not less than ten years nor more than forty years.

Negligent Homicide in Louisiana – La RS 14:32

What is negligent homicide?

A. Negligent homicide is either of the following:

            (1) The killing of a human being by criminal negligence.

            (2) The killing of a human being by a dog or other animal when the owner is reckless and criminally negligent in confining or restraining the dog or other animal.

            B. The violation of a statute or ordinance shall be considered only as presumptive evidence of such negligence.

What are the penalties for negligent homicide in Louisiana?

            C.(1) Except as provided for in Paragraph (2) of this Subsection, whoever commits the crime of negligent homicide shall be imprisoned with or without hard labor for not more than five years, fined not more than five thousand dollars, or both.

            (2)(a) If the victim killed was under the age of ten years, the offender shall be imprisoned at hard labor, without benefit of probation, parole, or suspension of sentence, for not less than two nor more than five years.

            (b) If the court does not order the offender to a term of imprisonment when the following two factors are established, the court shall state, both orally and in writing at the time of sentencing, the reasons for not sentencing the offender to a term of imprisonment:

            (i) The fatality was caused by a person engaged in the operation of, or in actual physical control of, any motor vehicle, aircraft, watercraft, or other means of conveyance; and

            (ii) The offender’s blood alcohol concentration contributed to the fatality.

            (3) If the victim was killed by a dog or other animal, the owner of the dog or other animal shall be imprisoned with or without hard labor for not more than five years or fined not more than five thousand dollars, or both.

            D. The provisions of this Section shall not apply to:

            (1) Any dog which is owned, or the service of which is employed, by any state or local law enforcement agency for the principal purpose of aiding in the detection of criminal activity, enforcement of laws, or apprehension of offenders.

            (2) Any dog trained in accordance with the standards of a national or regional search and rescue association to respond to instructions from its handler in the search and rescue of lost or missing individuals and which dog, together with its handler, is prepared to render search and rescue services at the request of law enforcement.

            (3) Any guide or service dog trained at a qualified dog guide or service school who is accompanying any blind person, visually impaired person, person who is deaf or hard of hearing, or person with any other physical disability who is using the dog as a guide or for service.

            (4) Any attack made by a dog lawfully inside a dwelling, a place of business, or a motor vehicle as defined in R.S. 32:1(40), against a person who is attempting to make an unlawful entry into the dwelling, place of business, or motor vehicle, or who has made an unlawful entry into the dwelling, place of business, or motor vehicle, and the dog is protecting that property.

            (5) Any attack made by livestock as defined in this Section.

            E. For the purposes of this Section:

            (1) “Harboring or keeping” means feeding, sheltering, or having custody over the animal for three or more consecutive days.

            (2) “Livestock” means any animal except dogs and cats, bred, kept, maintained, raised, or used for profit, that is used in agriculture, aquaculture, agritourism, competition, recreation, or silvaculture, or for other related purposes or used in the production of crops, animals, or plant or animal products for market. This definition includes but is not limited to cattle, buffalo, bison, oxen, and other bovine; horses, mules, donkeys, and other equine; goats; sheep; swine; chickens, turkeys, and other poultry; domestic rabbits; imported exotic deer and antelope, elk, farm-raised white-tailed deer, farm-raised ratites, and other farm-raised exotic animals; fish, pet turtles, and other animals identified with aquaculture which are located in artificial reservoirs or enclosures that are both on privately owned property and constructed so as to prevent, at all times, the ingress and egress of fish life from public waters; any commercial crawfish from any crawfish pond; and any hybrid, mixture, or mutation of any such animal.

            (3) “Owner” means any person, partnership, corporation, or other legal entity owning, harboring, or keeping any animal.

Vehicular Homicide in Louisiana – La RS 14:32.1

What is vehicular homicide?

Vehicular homicide is the killing of a human being caused proximately or caused directly by an offender engaged in the operation of, or in actual physical control of, any motor vehicle, aircraft, watercraft, or other means of conveyance, whether or not the offender had the intent to cause death or great bodily harm, whenever any of the following conditions exists and such condition was a contributing factor to the killing:

(1)  The operator is under the influence of alcoholic beverages as determined by chemical tests administered under the provisions of R.S. 32:662.

(2)  The operator’s blood alcohol concentration is 0.08 percent or more by weight based upon grams of alcohol per one hundred cubic centimeters of blood.

(3)  The operator is under the influence of any controlled dangerous substance listed in Schedule I, II, III, IV, or V as set forth in R.S. 40:964.

(4)  The operator is under the influence of alcoholic beverages.

(5)(a)  The operator is under the influence of a combination of alcohol and one or more drugs which are not controlled dangerous substances and which are legally obtainable with or without a prescription.

(b)  It shall be an affirmative defense to any charge under this Paragraph pursuant to this Section that the label on the container of the prescription drug or the manufacturer’s package of the drug does not contain a warning against combining the medication with alcohol.

(6)  The operator is under the influence of one or more drugs which are not controlled dangerous substances and which are legally obtainable with or without a prescription and the influence is caused by the operator knowingly consuming quantities of the drug or drugs which substantially exceed the dosage prescribed by the physician or the dosage recommended by the manufacturer of the drug.

(7)  The operator’s blood has any detectable amount of any controlled dangerous substance listed in Schedule I, II, III, or IV as set forth in R.S. 40:964, or a metabolite of such controlled dangerous substance, that has not been medically ordered or prescribed for the individual.

What are the penalties for vehicular homicide in Louisiana?

Whoever commits the crime of vehicular homicide shall be fined not less than two thousand dollars nor more than fifteen thousand dollars and shall be imprisoned with or without hard labor for not less than five years nor more than thirty years.  At least three years of the sentence of imprisonment shall be imposed without benefit of probation, parole, or suspension of sentence.  If the operator’s blood alcohol concentration is 0.15 percent or more by weight based upon grams of alcohol per one hundred cubic centimeters of blood, then at least five years of the sentence of imprisonment shall be imposed without benefit of probation, parole, or suspension of sentence.  If the offender was previously convicted of a violation of R.S. 14:98, then at least five years of the sentence of imprisonment shall be imposed without benefit of probation, parole, or suspension of sentence.  The court shall require the offender to participate in a court-approved substance abuse program and may require the offender to participate in a court-approved driver improvement program.  All driver improvement courses required under this Section shall include instruction on railroad grade crossing safety.

C. Whoever commits the crime of vehicular homicide shall be sentenced as an offender convicted of a crime of violence if the offender’s blood alcohol concentration, at the time of the offense, exceeds 0.20 percent by weight based on grams of alcohol per one hundred cubic centimeters of blood.

D.  Notwithstanding the provisions of Code of Criminal Procedure Article 883, if the offense for which the offender was convicted pursuant to the provisions of this Section proximately or directly causes the death of two or more human beings, the offender shall be sentenced separately for each victim, and such sentences shall run consecutively.  In calculating the number of deaths for purposes of this Subsection, a human being includes an unborn child.

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Contact a New Orleans Murder Defense Lawyer

Barkemeyer Law Firm has success helping clients charged with Murder in Louisiana. Contact our criminal lawyers to discuss your case.

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New Orleans, LA 70170

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