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How do you defend yourself from a second-degree murder charge?

There are defenses if you're accused of second-degree murder. Several could apply to your case, and your attorney can help you determine which is most appropriate or if a combination of defenses might work for you.

Does a claim of innocence really work?

One of the main defenses is innocence. This is when you claim you did not commit a crime. This is particularly common among those falsely accused, and it works best when you have an alibi. An alibi is a person or item that shows where you were at the time of the murder, so you can be excluded from the suspect list. The prosecution needs to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you committed a crime, so if they cannot, you will not be proven guilty in court.

Can you use self-defense as a defensive option for a second-degree murder charge?

Another good defense is claiming that you were defending yourself. For example, imagine someone breaking into your home and attacking you. It would not be unreasonable for you to reach for your gun or a bat to fend off the intruder who is attacking you. That person's death was caused because you were defending yourself from harm.

With this claim, you must not have been somewhere you were prohibited from being and cannot be the instigator of the situation. You must also show that you had a reasonable fear of being killed or badly harmed. It's also a good idea to be able to explain how you tried to get away or flee before using force against your attacker. Your attorney can help you decide if this is the right defense for you.

Source: FindLaw, "Second Degree Murder Defenses," accessed Feb. 19, 2017

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