Many folks have found themselves facing murder charges even though they never hurt anyone in their life. A terrible mistake, like intentionally lighting an empty barn on fire, may have escalated quickly and now someone is dead. Situations like these can happen because of Ohio’s felony murder rule, which broadens the crime of murder.
The idea behind this rule is that certain crimes are inherently dangerous and can easily result in fatalities. Consequently, anyone who commits these crimes can face penalties for murder if anyone dies, even if they did not cause direct harm to the victim. They will also face penalties for the original crime itself.
That’s why it’s important to have our experienced and dedicated attorneys at Hiltner Trial Lawyers on your side. Facing multiple charges, especially murder, is overwhelming and stressful. From experienced Ohio defense attorney Max Hiltner, here’s what the felony murder rule means.
What is a felony murder rule?
Generally speaking, a felony murder rule means a person can be charged with first-degree murder for a fatality that occurs during a dangerous felony, even if that person is not the killer.
Usually, a case of first-degree murder would involve proving the accused had intent or showed reckless indifference for human life.
In order to apply the felony murder rule, prosecutors must only prove that:
- The accused participated in a dangerous crime, and
- Someone died while that crime was committed
If convicted of murder, you could face the harshest penalties permissible by law:
- 15-30 years
- A life sentence
- The death penalty
What about other felony charges in Ohio?
There can still be consequences if someone dies while you are committing a felony not mentioned above.
You may be facing an involuntary manslaughter charge if:
- Someone dies while you are committing any felony in Ohio or someone dies while you are committing a misdemeanor
- The person wouldn’t have died otherwise
You can face charges for involuntary manslaughter regardless of whether you successfully committed the crime.
The penalties for involuntary manslaughter can vary depending on whether you committed or attempted to commit a felony or misdemeanor.
For involuntary manslaughter, for example, the penalties could be:
- Felony → 3 to 11 years
- Misdemeanor → 9 months to 3 years
Recently, a bill was introduced to change the felony murder rule – specifically to protect minors from harsh sentences. Although nothing has been voted on as of yet, rest assured our experienced criminal defense attorneys will be prepared for any new law and how it may affect you.
Contact Hiltner Trial Lawyers today
Facing multiple charges, including murder, is never something you should face alone. At Hiltner Trial Lawyers, we’ll use all our experience, resources, and knowledge to make sure you get the best deal possible.
If you are accused of felony murder in Ohio, don’t hesitate to contact us to schedule a free consultation. Looking out for you and your rights is a serious responsibility at Hiltner Trial Lawyers.