A man is being charged with aggravated murder after allegedly shooting and killing his parents in Cleveland. The man was also indicted on charges of burglary and theft after he was found in a motel with stolen items from his parents’ home.
What Constitutes Aggravated Murder?
Ohio Code classifies any purposeful, premeditated killing as aggravated murder. The code also includes unlawfully and intentionally terminating a pregnancy, killing anyone under the age of 13, and killing a law enforcement officer while he or she is fulfilling his or her duties as potentially carrying an aggravated murder charge. There is, however, a requirement that the defendant must be reasonably able to know that the victim belongs to one of the aforementioned groups.
While other factors do come into play, the key to an aggravated murder charge is premeditation. In some cases, this pre-planning is difficult to prove and can make an enormous difference in the chances of conviction and severity of sentencing.
Murder vs. Aggravated Murder
Although both murder and aggravated murder are felonies, the difference in potential sentences is dramatic. If convicted of aggravated murder, the defendant may face penalties as severe as the death penalty or life in prison, along with up to $25,000 in fines.
However, defendants under the age of 18 at the time of the crime may be able to take the death penalty off the table. If convicted of the lesser murder felony, the defendant may face 15 years to life in prison and up to $15,000 in fines, making a downgrade to a murder charge an option some defendants pursue. A knowledgeable Fairborn criminal defense attorney can help you to determine the best course of action in your specific case.
Sentencing in Aggravated Murder Cases
Sentencing in aggravated murder cases takes into account the many different situations and circumstances of the case. These considerations can either increase or decrease the severity of the crime and, therefore, the sentence. Aggravating circumstances, such as those listed below, can increase the severity of the sentence:
- Defendant was hired or paid to commit the murder
- The purpose was to avoid trial or penalization for another crime
- Defendant has been previously convicted of killing or attempting to kill
- The victim was under the age of 13
On the other hand, mitigating factors can reduce the sentence, as these factors are generally considered to lessen the severity of the crime. Mitigating factors can include:
- Defendant was under duress, coercion, or provocation
- Defendant’s mental disease or defect
- Defendant’s age, particularly if very young
- Defendant’s lack of other criminal history
Regardless of the circumstances, sentencing is a complex matter taking into account numerous factors and will include hefty penalties. Only an experienced criminal defense lawyer can ensure that any mitigating circumstances are presented and taken into account.
Contact an Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer Today
If you find yourself or a loved one charged with aggravated murder, do not try to handle the complicated issues of defense alone. Contact the Fairborn criminal defense attorneys at The VanNoy Firm immediately and ensure that you have the best possible representation.