Screen shot 2011-08-07 at 10.34.47 AM 3Murder is the ultimate crime. In Colorado, it can carry the ultimate punishment – the death penalty. In Colorado, not all homicides amount to murder. The various homicide offenses include first degree murder, second degree murder, manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide and vehicular homicide.

Not all homicides are crimes. Homicide is the killing of one person by another. Some killings are justified under the law, such as a lawful use of force by a person acting in self-defense. The old saying that it is better to be tried by twelve than carried by six can apply in a self-defense case, but even a killer who acted in lawful self-defense would be well-advised to enlist the aid of an experienced criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible to help with the interactions with the police officers and prosecutors.

The best defense your lawyer can present in a homicide case (other than you’ve got the wrong guy) is often the defense of self-defense. A person is allowed to use a reasonable amount of force to defend himself from an attack. Information you knew about your attacker that made you believe it was reasonably necessary to use force to defend yourself is admissible at trial and can be considered by the jury in deciding whether you were acting in lawful self-defense.

Colorado has also enacted the “Make My Day” law, also known as the “Castle Doctrine,” which allows a person to use physical force, including deadly force, upon an intruder in one’s home when: (1) the other person has made an unlawful entry into the dwelling; and (2) the occupant has a reasonable belief that the other person has committed or is about to commit a crime in the dwelling (other than mere trespass), or the occupant reasonably believes that the intruder might use physical force, no matter how slight, against any occupant. See C.R.S. Section 18-1-704.5.

Presenting a self-defense claim in a homicide case can be complicated and tricky, and requires knowledge of the law of evidence. An experienced criminal defense lawyer can help you present your best defense.

Both James T. Anest and Morley Swingle are former prosecutors. Swingle prosecuted 79 homicide cases as a prosecutor. He obtained the death penalty four times. He has tried many cases where the law of self-defense determined the outcome of a homicide case. He also prosecuted many cases involving drunk driving fatalities, and is a graduate of the National District Attorneys “Lethal Weapon” course, where prosecutors are trained how to prosecute vehicular homicide cases.

If you or a loved one is facing a homicide charge, feel free to call Parker Lawyers at (303) 841-9525.