Utah Homicide Attorneys
The Salt Lake City criminal defense team Brass & Cordova is well-known for providing intelligent, aggressive representation to clients facing serious felony charges in Utah courts. We have expertise handling homicide cases, including capital cases, which require the highest level of determination and advocacy skill. If you or someone you know faces homicide charges, please learn more about criminal homicide classifications below, and contact our offices to schedule a free initial consultation with a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney.
Edward K. Brass and Kim Cordova are both certified by the State of Utah to handle capital murder cases, and appreciate the profound magnitude of the task before us when called on to represent a defendant in a capital case. We bring experience, conviction, and unwavering focus to preparing compelling defense strategies, understanding that our clients are truly putting their lives in our hands.
In Utah, you may be charged with murder if you are suspected of causing another person's death intentionally, with intent to cause serious injury that is clearly life-threatening, or through actions that show a depraved indifference to human life. In order to qualify a defendant for a capital murder punishment, the prosecution must prove murder and also show that an aggravating factor existed at the time of the alleged homicide. The special circumstances that may give rise to an aggravated murder charge include, but are not limited to:
- The alleged homicide was committed by a person in jail or other correctional institution
- The alleged homicide was committed during a criminal episode in which two or more people were killed, or could have been killed
- During the homicide, there was a great risk of death to a person other than the victim and the alleged actor
- The alleged homicide was committed of avoiding or preventing arrest
- The alleged homicide was committed incident to a hijacking
- The alleged homicide was especially heinous, atrocious, cruel, or depraved
- The defendant has previous convictions of murder, a felony involving violence, or another serious felony
- The alleged homicide was committed for financial gain
If you or someone you love faces capital murder charges, you need legal representation you can trust completely. At Brass & Cordova, we work tirelessly to earn our clients' faith and confidence, and are committed to achieving optimal results for those who retain our services.
Homicide and murder are not interchangeable terms. While murder involves a certain mental state that gives rise to culpability, homicide is a general term that encompasses any killing of another person. Thus, even an unintentional act can result in homicide charges. In Utah, a person may be charged with negligent homicide if he or she causes the death of another as the result of criminal negligence. Examples of criminal negligence include intoxicated driving (see automobile homicide) and failing to adequately care for or supervise a child (see child abuse homicide). In some cases, these two circumstances occur together, as when an adult allegedly drives under the influence of alcohol or drugs and a child passenger is hurt in an accident.
Negligent homicide is a class A misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and up to $2,500 in fines. In addition, your driver's license may be revoked upon conviction of negligent homicide if the death of another person resulted from driving a motor vehicle. Our attorneys have extensive experience handling negligent homicide cases, and can help you put what was likely a tragic accident behind you.
Child Abuse Homicide
A person may be charged with child abuse homicide if he or she allegedly caused the death of another person under 18 years old, and the death allegedly resulted from child abuse. In Utah, the actions and circumstances that may constitute child abuse are numerous and varied. Generally, however, child abuse falls into one of four categories:
- Child abandonment, which occurs when a parent or guardian ceases to maintain physical custody of a child, and involves the failure to provide food, shelter, or clothing, or make arrangements for a child's safety and care
- Physical injury, which includes a bruise or contusion of the skin, a minor laceration or abrasion, a failure to thrive, or malnutrition
- Serious physical injury, which includes any physical injury or set of injuries that seriously impairs a child's health, involves physical torture, causes emotional harm to the child, or involves a substantial risk of death to the child
- Domestic violence in the presence of a child
Child abuse homicide may be charged as a second or third degree felony depending on whether the prosecution believes the abuse, and resulting death, occurred because of recklessness or criminal negligence. A person may be charged with child abuse homicide even if another person's actions actually caused the child's fatal injury. This is because child abuse includes circumstances when a parent or guardian permits another to physically injure or abandon a child.
At Brass & Cordova, we know how to handle cases involving child victims, deftly balancing sensitivity to the situation and aggressive advocacy on behalf of our client. We also understand how prosecutors approach these cases, and can use this insight to our client's advantage.
In Utah, a person may be charged with automobile homicide if he or she allegedly operated a motor vehicle in a negligent manner and caused the death of another person as the result of being under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The existence of alcohol or drugs in a person's system may be shown through chemical tests taken at the time of an accident or perceptions of law enforcement and/or witnesses. Automobile homicide is generally charged as a third degree felony, unless you have prior DUI or impaired driving convictions on your record, in which case the offense may be charged as a second degree felony.
Automobile homicide may also be charged if a person allegedly operated a motor vehicle in a negligent manner while using a cell phone or texting and as a result caused the death of another person. While usually charged as a third degree felony, if the prosecution believes it can prove criminal negligence, the offense may be charged as a second degree felony.
Brass & Cordova has tried numerous automobile homicide cases, successfully mitigating or defeating charges in many circumstances. In an automobile homicide case, the prosecution does not need to show harmful intent on the part of the driver to prove culpability. Rather, simply establishing that a driver was intoxicated or negligent at the time an accident occurred may be enough to achieve a conviction. Our attorneys understand how to explore and reconstruct accidents, analyze medical reports, and utilize expert opinions to reveal the potentially numerous factors that could have caused an accident other than our client's behavior.
Manslaughter is defined as recklessly causing the death of another, or committing a homicide that would be murder but the offense is reduced because the defendant caused or attempted to cause the death of another under a reasonable belief that the act was legally justified or excused under the circumstances. A murder charge may also be reduced to manslaughter if certain mitigating factors exist, such as mental illness or extreme emotional distress.
Manslaughter is classified as a second degree felony, and if the death of another person resulted from driving a motor vehicle, a defendant's driver's license may also be revoked upon conviction.
The defense team at Brass & Cordova has successfully handled many manslaughter cases involving a wide range of fact patterns. Whether arguing a murder charge down to a manslaughter charge or arguing a manslaughter charge down to negligent homicide, or seeking an outright dismissal or acquittal, we can help you achieve the best result in your situation.