First and Second-Degree Intentional Homicide Charges In Wisconsin
Understanding First and Second-Degree Intentional Homicide Charges In Wisconsin Intentional homicide charges in Wisconsin will be classified in one of two categories, depending on the circumstances surrounding the death: first-degree intentional homicide or second-degree intentional homicide. Both are serious charges that require representation by a criminal defense attorney.
Defining Intentional Homicide
- First-Degree Intentional Homicide. Under Wisconsin law, deaths that occur when one person intentionally causes another person’s death or the death of an unborn baby while attempting to kill the mother will be charged as first-degree intentional homicide.
- Second-Degree Intentional Homicide. Deaths that result when the defendant has just cause in killing the victim are considered second-degree intentional homicide.
First-Degree Intentional HomicideFirst-degree intentional homicide in Wisconsin is a Class A felony. This crime is charged when the defendant had intent to kill the victim. This proof of intent is important because intentional homicide can be charged even if the wrong victim was killed. As long as the defendant had intent to kill a victim, it does not matter who the victim ultimately was. Intent is also important in differentiating between first- and second-degree intentional homicide. First-degree intentional homicide convictions in Wisconsin carry a mandatory sentence of life in prison, although it is possible to have charged mitigated and sentences reduced with a strong defense.
Second-Degree Intentional HomicideSecond-degree intentional homicide is a Class B felony, but it can only be charged if the defendant had a valid reason, such as:
- Adequate provocation
- Unnecessary defense force
- Prevention of felony and coercion
Intentional Homicide Defense StrategiesSecond-degree intentional homicide charges in Wisconsin are less severe than first-degree charges. In some cases, it is possible to be mitigated from a first-degree charge to a second-degree intentional homicide charge, but in order for that to occur, the defendant must admit to killing the victim. The key defense in this situation is that you have a reason for killing the other person. Once you admit to the killing, it is the job of the prosecutor to present proof that you had no reason or defense for the killing and should therefore, be facing first-degree charges. If this proof cannot be found, the second-degree intentional homicide charge will be applied. In a second-degree intentional homicide case, your defense attorney may argue that:
- You were provoked by the victim, causing you to lose control and resulting in the victim’s death.
- The victim was a threat to you or others and killing him/her was the only way to defend yourself or others who were in danger.
- You witnessed a felony being committed, took action to stop the felony activities, and those actions resulted in the victim’s death.