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In Alabama, Murder obviously involves the killing of a person. Regular murder, like the above mentioned capital murder, is also a Class A felony imposing a possible sentencing range of ten (10) years to life. There are two elements that apply to an individual charged with murder: the mens rea state (mental state), also called the intent element, and the actus reus element (the act itself) The Alabama Code list the elements of murder in 13A-6-2. According to the Alabama Code, a person commits the crime of murder if he or she does any of the following:

(1) With intent to cause the death of another person, he or she causes the death of that person or of another person.

(2) Under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to human life, he or she recklessly engages in conduct which creates a grave risk of death to a person other than himself or herself, and thereby causes the death of another person.

(3) He or she commits or attempts to commit arson in the first degree, burglary in the first or second degree, escape in the first degree, kidnapping in the first degree, rape in the first degree, robbery in any degree, sodomy in the first degree, aggravated child abuse under Section 26-15-3.1 , or any other felony clearly dangerous to human life and, in the course of and in furtherance of the crime that he or she is committing or attempting to commit, or in immediate flight therefrom, he or she, or another participant if there be any, causes the death of any person.

(4) He or she commits the crime of arson and a qualified governmental or volunteer firefighter or other public safety officer dies while performing his or her duty resulting from the arson.

  • Defenses to Murder:

There are several defenses to the crime of murder. The first is the individual is not guilty “by reason of mental disease or defect.” Essentially, this means that the accused did not have the mental capacity and/or understanding of the nature and/or wrongfulness of his or her conduct at the time of the alleged crime, thus did not possess the necessary mens rea.

Although there is a presumption of sanity in Alabama, this presumption can be rebutted. The McNaughton rule is the controlling law of the insanity defense in Alabama. The M'Naghten rule is divided into two separate sections: an individual must demonstrate both that the individual did not understand the nature and quality of the act that was committed and that that the individual was unable to distinguish between right or wrong. Individuals must satisfy both of these elements in Alabama before a court of law. It is particularly difficult for individuals to successfully argue under the M'Naghten rule because there are very few situations where an individual is not aware that committing a murder is wrong.

Another defense to murder is what's called the “heat of passion” murder. Although this is a defense, it does not dispose of all criminal liability. This is codified in section 13A-6-2(b), which states:

A person does not commit murder under subdivisions (a)(1) or (a)(2) of this section if he or she was moved to act by a sudden heat of passion caused by provocation recognized by law, and before there had been a reasonable time for the passion to cool and for reason to reassert itself.  The burden of injecting the issue of killing under legal provocation is on the defendant, but this does not shift the burden of proof.  This subsection does not apply to a prosecution for, or preclude a conviction of, manslaughter or other crime.

If you have been suspected or charged with Murder in Alabama it is important to contact a qualified lawyer as soon as possible. Call Dixon Law today at 205-616-8896.

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