Pittsburgh Homicide Attorneys – Top Criminal Defense Lawyers

What You Need to Know if You Were Charged with Homicide in Pennsylvania

If you or someone you know has been charged with homicide (murder, manslaughter, or involuntary manslaughter) expect to face a very tough prosecution in Pennsylvania, where capital punishment still exists and hundreds spend their lives on death row. The District Attorney will pull every stop to get a conviction and a maximum sentence.

This is a very frightening experience and you will need someone to protect your interests, and your rights and be able to provide you with a solid counsel and understanding of your rights. You need someone who has experience in protecting people in similar situations.

An aggressive and experienced homicide attorney can protect your rights and push back against the District Attorney to win your case, proving your innocence and preserving your reputation. An attorney, familiar with the methods prosecutors use to get a conviction is needed to strategize for a not-guilty verdict or minimal sentencing from the jury.

Understanding Homicide Charges in Pennsylvania

Homicide in itself is not a crime; homicide is the definition of killing another person. Homicide is legal when committed in self-defense or in cases of an unintentional accident where no reckless behavior has occurred and no malicious intent was involved. Homicide is a generic term that covers murder and manslaughter.

Types of Murder and Murder Penalties in Pennsylvania

First-Degree Murder: The act of murder committed by an intentional killing or by being part of a conspiracy to commit murder, including soliciting someone else to commit murder.

  • Punishment for a first-degree murder conviction in PA is either the death penalty or mandatory life in prison without parole.
Second-Degree Murder: The act of murder committed while the defendant was engaged in committing a felony or was an accomplice during a felony. It does not matter whether the accused had an intention to commit murder or not, so long as they had the intention to commit a felony and killed a person either during the process or while escaping the crime scene.
  • Punishment for a second-degree murder conviction in PA is mandatory life in prison without parole.
Third-Degree Murder: This includes all other kinds of murder committed without intention or while committing a felony.
  • Punishment for a third-degree murder conviction in PA is a felony of the first degree with ten to twenty years of incarceration.

Types of Manslaughter and Manslaughter Penalties in Pennsylvania

Voluntary Manslaughter: Homicide as a result of a sudden impulse and intense passion without lawful justification.
  • Punishment for a voluntary manslaughter conviction in PA is a felony of the first degree with ten to twenty years of prison time.
Involuntary Manslaughter: Homicide during the course of a reckless or gross negligent behavior.
  • Punishment for an involuntary manslaughter conviction in PA is a misdemeanor of the first degree with two and a half to five years of prison time. However, if the victim is under 12 years of age, it will become a second-degree felony.
Vehicular Manslaughter: Homicide while violating any traffic laws (speeding, running red lights, or drunk driving or drugged driving.)
  • Punishment for a vehicular manslaughter conviction in PA is the same as involuntary manslaughter—a misdemeanor of the first degree with two and a half to five years of prison time. If the victim is under 12 years of age, it will become a second-degree felony.

If you have been charged with vehicular manslaughter while drinking and driving, you will need an experienced Pittsburgh DUI Attorney. Read more about DUIs and motor vehicle accidents in PA.

A Murder Charge Does Not Mean a Murder Conviction

Being charged with murder means that your world feels like it is falling apart. The consequences upon conviction are very severe and this is a very scary situation to face. The important thing to remember is that before you are convicted, you have rights. You have a chance to defend your innocence and plead your case.

At Ketchel Law, we listen to you carefully and we closely examine how police and prosecutors obtained their evidence, searching for evidence that they did so legally and followed procedures and protocol. We will investigate every possible piece of evidence, using forensic experts and other professional specialists and experts if necessary.

If your rights were violated, we will move to suppress the evidence and have your charges dismissed. If forensic evidence is not available, the evidence that prosecutors are most likely to have is based on the credibility of witnesses, who may be sketchy characters who are not very credible. If they take the stand, their credibility can easily be crushed by a good homicide defense lawyer and completely dismissed by a jury.


The legal experts at Ketchel Law are experienced and aggressive attorneys who fight hard for the rights of our clients. We understand that people make mistakes and we understand that people are innocent until proven guilty and will treat you as such.

Give us a call today for a free consultation.

Our homicide attorneys in Pittsburgh, PA will begin preparing for trial immediately and will fight aggressively against the prosecution. If you want an aggressive attorney who is experienced, understand the DA’s office, and will closely examine every detail of your case, leaving no stone unturned, call us today.

We will give you a free consultation and help you get started in the counseling needed to prepare yourself against the worst.

Read more about violent crimes in Pennsylvania: