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Defense Options For First-Degree Murder Charges

As a previous post highlighted, the negligence or recklessness of an individual could result in serious criminal charges. While not willful, an individual could face manslaughter charges for the death of an individual. On the other hand, a person could be accused of intentionally killing another, resulting in murder charges.

In order to understand how best to defend yourself against first-degree murder charges, one must be aware of the defense strategies available to defendants. A criminal defense for a first-degree murder charge can fall in one of two categories. Either the defendant claims that he or she did not commit the alleged killing, or the defendant admits to the killing; however asserts that it is not first-degree murder.

Those admitting to the killing of a victim are able to assert various defenses. This includes self-defense and incapacitation. These defense options require a defendant to put forth evidence to prove or support his or her defense claim. One may also assert a defense that argues that the prosecution has not proven all the elements of first-degree murder charge, which typically means that the accused killed the victim willfully, deliberately and with premeditation.

A defendant can argue mistaken identity, which asserts that the prosecution has charged the wrong person. One could also assert a justified homicide, which means self-defense was reasonable to use in the situation that resulted in the death of the attacker. Another defense option is claiming it was an accident or misfortune that caused the death of another. However, such instance could result in liability for manslaughter. Finally, a defendant could assert an insanity defense. This relies on a defendant being able to prove that they cognitively couldn't appreciate the quality of the act committed or realize that the act was wrong.

No matter which defense option a defendant chooses, it is vital that defendants fully understand the charges they face, the situation that led to the charges and what penalties he or she could face. This information could help one develop the best defense for his or her situation.

Categories
  • The Iowa State Bar Association
  • DUI Defense Law
  • NACDL
  • AAJ
  • Iowa Association of Justice

Keegan, Tindal, & Mason 

Put Over 50 Years of Combined Trial Experience On Your Side 
  • J. Dean Keegan
  • Eric D. Tindal
  • Andrea D. Mason
  • J. Dean Keegan J. Dean Keegan

    Owner

    Decades of Award-Winning Legal Service J. Dean Keegan was born and raised in Waterloo, Iowa. After high school, Dean served ...
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  • Eric D. Tindal Eric D. Tindal

    Attorney

    Highly Rated Criminal Defense in Iowa City Eric D. Tindal, attorney at Keegan, Tindal & Mason, graduated from the University ...
    Eric D. Tindal Photo
  • Andrea D. Mason Andrea D. Mason

    Attorney

    Experienced Criminal Defense in the Iowa and Illinois Quad Cities Andrea D. Mason practices in the areas of white collar ...
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See What Our Clients Have to say

  • He was professional, knowledgeable and prompt. He was very effective in his communication.

    “He showed genuine concern with my matters. He described a plan of action. His information and demeanor were very reassuring. After the Hire: He was professional, knowledgeable and prompt. He was very ...”

    - David
  • I am glad he was there to get my head out of the guillotine when I needed him and keep my record clean.

    “I was stopped for an OWI. Dean took things as far as he could with the appeals process, finding every way possible to keep me driving in the meantime (which I needed to do for my job). Dean argued the ...”

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SUCCESSFUL results for our clients

Protecting Your Freedom & Rights
  • Operating While Intoxicated Record Expunged

    Johnson OWCR106890. Attorney Dean Keegan's client received an Operating While Intoxicated, a serious misdemeanor. After reviewing the videos, Mr. Keegan filed a Motion to Suppress arguing the officer denied his client's right to make a phone call. The State declined to present testimony at the hearing and the Motion to Suppress was granted, making the client eligible for a deferred judgment. Mr. Keegan's client will have her record expunged and be able to obtain a license after 90 days instead of 180.

  • Drug Charge Charge Dismissed

    Johnson County No. OWCR039210, Iowa City, Iowa. Attorney J. Dean Keegan conducted a three-day long suppression hearing which presented the first challenge to the "Drug Recognition Protocols" used in Iowa.

  • Embezzlement No Criminal Charges Filed

    Cedar Rapids, Linn County, Iowa. An employee of a Cedar Rapids business accused of embezzling six million dollars was not charged criminally after the County Attorney agreed to abide by an agreement negotiated by Attorneys J. Dean Keegan and Jerald Kinnamon in which the accused would pay two million dollars to the company.

  • Vehicular Homicide Charge Dismissed

    Johnson County No. FECR058630- Iowa City, Iowa. Attorneys J. Dean Keegan and Jerald W. Kinnamon successfully challenged the withdrawal of blood from a Defendant without his permission after a rollover accident in which a passenger in the vehicle was killed.

  • Vehicular Homicide Charge Dismissed

    Muscatine County No. FECR03718 - Muscatine, Iowa. If convicted of the vehicular homicide while intoxicated, as alleged in this case, the Defendant would have faced the possibility of a 25-year prison sentence, 17 years of which would have to be served before he would be eligible for parole. Following the depositions of the investigating officer and consultation with an accident reconstruction expert, Attorneys J. Dean Keegan and Jerry Kinnamon negotiated the dismissal of Vehicular Homicide as part of a plea

  • OWI Charge Dismissed

    Johnson County No. OWCR083001 - Iowa City, Iowa. Attorney J. Dean Keegan alleged that the Defendant's rights to contact a lawyer or family member may have been violated after his arrest. He requested video of the breath test from the arresting officer to support his allegation. When the officer failed to produce the video evidence in response written requests, a subpoena, and a Motion to Compel, the State conceded the issue and dismissed the offense.

  • OWI Acquittal at Jury Trial

    Johnson County No. OWCR077717- Iowa City, Iowa. Acquittal at jury trial of a defendant accused of Operating While Intoxicated who refused a breath alcohol test. Tried by Attorney J, Dean Keegan.

  • OWI Case Overturned

    State v. Hornik, Segura, et. al.Iowa City, Johnson County, Iowa. When the state of Iowa established that the Datamaster breath testing machine could be used to test subjects being investigated for OWI, it failed to establish a protocol for its proper use. Attorney J. Dean Keegan, in conjunction with the Johnson County Public Defender's Office, mounted a challenge to the use of the machine based on the lack of uniform instructions for its operation.

  • Zero Tolerance Driver's License Revocation Zero Tolerance Driver's License Revocation Overt

    Iowa Dept. of Inspection and Appeals Docket No. 08DOTOW3937. Attorney J. Dean Keegan successfully challenged a "Zero Tolerance" license revocation on the basis that the officer had failed to allow the driver to contact a family member or attorney for legal advice before submitting to the test.

  • OWI 2nd Offense Charge Dismissed

    Muscatine County No. OWCR040280 - Muscatine, Iowa. After Attorney Dean Keegan scheduled the deposition of the State's expert witness in this case, he learned that the breath test was inappropriately administered by the arresting officer. The State dismissed the offense outright and agreed that the breath test result should be inadmissible so the Defendant would not face the proposed one-year administrative revocation of her driver's license.

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