Experienced Criminal & DUI Attorney

I was accused of murder in Oregon. What do I do now?

Murder is one of the most serious crimes that a person could be charged with, and you need a skilled criminal attorney on your side at the earliest possible moment. If you have been charged with any form of murder, manslaughter or negligent homicide, do not talk to the police until you have talked to a lawyer.  

Generally speaking, homicide crimes involve the unlawful killing of another person. There are several variants of homicide and the various level of murder and manslaughter can become quite complicated. You may also be criminally liable for murder charges if someone is killed while you are committing certain other crimes. This doctrine, known as "felony murder," includes cases where the underlying crime was arson, burglary, assault, robbery, kidnapping, or a felony level sexual offense.

What types of murder might apply to my case?

There are several different classifications of murder in the state of Oregon and all of them are based on the “criminal homicide” statute found in Oregon’s Revised Statutes Section 163.005. This law states that:

  • “Criminal homicide” means to intentionally, knowingly, recklessly or with criminal negligence cause the death of another human being, without a lawful justification or excuse;
  • “Human being” means a person who has been born and was alive at the time of the criminal act.

The variations of criminal homicide that may apply to your case depend on the facts and circumstances that led to the unlawful killing of another person and your intent, if any, at the time of the alleged crime. The following “degrees” of criminal homicide may be applicable.

  • Murder- The government typically files murder charges if it believes the killing was intentional, or if the government plans to prove that, at the time of the killing, you were engaged in committing a serious arson, robbery, burglary, or similar crime. For example: if in the course of committing armed robbery your gun accidentally goes off and kills the robbery victim, you may be criminally liable for murder, even though you didn’t intend to kill the other person. If you are convicted of murder, you will be facing a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years in prison, and potentially much longer.
  • Aggravated murder- Similar to ordinary “murder”, aggravated murder is an intentional crime that requires you to have had an intentional goal of causing the death of another human being. The key difference is the class of victims that the crime applies to. You may be criminally liable for “aggravated” murder where the person killed was a police officer, judge, correctional officer, juror, or witness. It may also apply in the case of “murder for hire” if money was exchanged for the purpose of having another person killed, if the victim was under age 14, if the death occurred as a result of intentional torture or maiming, or if there was more than one victim who died during the same crime.

Other lesser homicide crimes carry less-severe potential punishments, but these punishments can still be quite harsh. In the state of Oregon these other crimes are:

  • Manslaughter in the second degree- this crime is a form of criminal homicide where the killing was the result of recklessness, where a person who is dependent or under 14 years of age died because of criminal negligence or if you intentionally caused or assisted another person to commit suicide. “Reckless” conduct occurs where your actions were so reckless that you reasonably should have foreseen that the death of another person could result. Manslaughter in the second degree is charged as a Class B felony.
  • Manslaughter in the first degree- this crime takes into account many potential circumstances that led to the death of another person. You may be criminally liable if you showed extreme indifference to the value of human life; if you recklessly caused the death of a child less than 14 years of age by torture or maiming and you have a history of torturing or maiming the same victim or any other child under the age of 14. You may also be charged with manslaughter in the first degree as a mitigating circumstance if, at the time you committed the murder, you were undergoing an extreme emotional disturbance. That is, the charges may be reduced from murder to manslaughter in the first degree. This crime is charged as a Class A felony. 
  • Aggravated vehicular homicide-the crime of aggravated vehicular homicide may be charged if in the course of operating a motor vehicle under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or a combination thereof; you caused the death of another person. This is not treated as an intentional crime, but it may apply regardless of whether you were criminally negligent, reckless or showed a reckless indifference to the value of human life while under the influence of intoxicants. This crime is charged as a Class A felony. Depending on the circumstances, your attorney may be able to raise the affirmative defense that you were not intoxicated at the time of the killing.
  • Criminally negligent homicide-criminal negligence is a lower standard for criminal liability than reckless or intentional conduct. This means that even if you did not intentionally or recklessly cause the death of another person, you may still be criminally liable. Under Oregon law the definition of criminally negligent homicide requires “a person commits the crime of criminally negligent homicide when, with criminal negligence, the person causes the death of another person”. Essentially, criminally negligent conduct is that which is a gross deviation from that of a reasonably prudent person or that you failed to perceive an unjustifiably risk to human health or safety. Under criminal negligence, you did not know of the risk of death to the alleged victim but you should have (a reasonably prudent person would have) and as a result your grossly negligent conduct led to the death of another person. This crime is a Class B felony.  

What specialized skill do you have to help me fight my criminal case?

Attorney Troy Pickard has years of experience as criminal defense attorney. He has defended clients in misdemeanor and felony cases throughout the state of Oregon and has a solid knowledge of Oregon criminal law and jurisprudence. 

  • If you are being investigated, or accused, of killing somebody else, don’t tell the police anything until you have spoken with an experienced criminal defense attorney. Anything you say can be used against you and you can be assured that your statements will come back to haunt you. Let a knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer tell your side of the story.
  • It is important to remember that no attorney can guarantee a particular case outcome. Every case is different and every prosecutor has a different philosophy for how cases should be handled. As such, a criminal attorney can’t give you complete advice about your case with examining the facts and circumstances leading to your arrest. Only then will they be able to properly evaluate the charges you are facing and your likelihood of success.
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