Many people who are charged with violent crimes don’t intend to harm another individual. Even if the injury occurs due to negligence or accident, it often still results in criminal charges. The stakes are high because a conviction nearly always means a lengthy prison sentence and a hefty fine. Many times, especially if the prosecutor will be hard-pressed to prove intent, an attorney can negotiate a plea bargain arrangement that involves a reduced sentence. In many other cases, there is a valid defense, such as self-defense, that an attorney can use to possibly get the charges substantially reduced or thrown out altogether.
Types of Violent Crimes
Violent crimes cover a wide range of offenses, including assault, battery, rape, kidnapping, and even hit-and-run. The most serious violent crimes — murder and aggravated murder — are unclassified felonies. Murder is punishable by 15 years to life in prison. Sentences for aggravated murder range from life in prison with the possibility for parole after 20 years to the death penalty. Aggravated murder means the act was premeditated or it occurred during the commission of another felony crime.
Other violent crimes include reckless homicide, which occurs through a negligent act on your part, and voluntary or involuntary manslaughter. Voluntary manslaughter is one step down from murder, but it requires that you acted in a fit of rage or passion or that the victim provoked you. Involuntary manslaughter occurs during the commission of another crime. In these cases, you may not have set out to take another person’s life, but it happened collaterally.
As a rule of thumb, any artificial object, from a pocket knife to an assault rifle, can be considered a weapon, at least in some circumstances. So, many violent crimes are really enhanced misdemeanors. If you happen to have a glass bottle during a bar fight, that’s aggravated assault. If you hit someone with the bottle, that could be aggravated assault with serious bodily injury.