There were 168 homicides committed in Massachusetts in 2020. One hundred and sixty-eight people died but hundreds of lives were changed, including the lives of those charged with murder.
If you have been charged with murder, your life will never be the same, regardless of guilt or innocence, or the circumstances surrounding the death. In every case, someone charged with murder deserves the best possible defense under the law.
For over two decades, I have been immersed in criminal law, first as a prosecuting attorney, and then as a criminal defense attorney. The Law Office of Joseph M Pacella is dedicated to providing the best criminal defense to clients in Springfield, Massachusetts, and throughout communities in the central and western areas of the state, including Northampton, Westfield, Amherst, and Palmer.
Massachusetts statute defines first-degree murder as one:
Committed with deliberately premeditated malice aforethought;
Committed with extreme atrocity or cruelty; or
One committed during the commission or attempted commission of a crime punishable by death or life imprisonment.
A murder that does not rise to this level may be charged as murder in the second degree. Second-degree murder also includes the intent to kill someone; however, the action was not premeditated. The intent occurred in the heat of the moment (for example, during an argument).
Voluntary manslaughter includes an intent to kill upon a provocation that the person who committed the offense can use to justify their actions. For example, a parent comes home and finds the babysitter assaulting their child. The parent picks up a baseball bat and swings it at the head of the sitter, intending to kill.
Involuntary manslaughter lacks the intent to kill. Instead, death occurs as the result of another criminal act, or of reckless or negligent behavior. Killing someone with a vehicle while driving under the influence is an example of involuntary manslaughter.
Convictions for first-degree murder are punishable by imprisonment for life without the possibility of parole. If the offender committed the act on or after their 14th birthday but prior to their 18th birthday, there is a possibility of parole.
Convictions for second-degree murder are punishable by life in prison with the possibility for parole.
Punishment for manslaughter convictions depends on the specific circumstances of the crime; however, convictions for voluntary manslaughter may be punishable by fines, restitution, and three to 20 years in prison. Punishment for involuntary manslaughter may include 10 to 16 months in prison or longer if the death resulted from reckless behavior. Involuntary manslaughter that occurred while under the influence of drugs or alcohol may be penalized by five years in prison, although work release programs are used in some cases.
Based on the circumstances of the alleged crimes, a criminal defense attorney may pursue any one or more possible defenses, including:
You have been wrongly identified as the perpetrator.
You were justified in taking someone’s life.
You were in a law enforcement role when the death occurred.
The death was an accident that occurred while you were doing something lawful.
You lacked the capability of understanding that the killing was wrong at the time.
I have successfully defended clients facing murder charges for 20 years, including at my own firm, the Law Office of Joseph M Pacella, for nearly a decade. Criminal defense is all I do. Clients in Springfield, Massachusetts, and throughout communities in the central and western areas of the state, including Northampton, Westfield, Amherst, and Palmer, have counted on that focus. The rest of your life hangs in the balance. Don’t wait. Call now.