In North Carolina, a premeditated killing is likely to be considered first-degree murder. However, it is also possible to face such a charge if a killing takes place during the commission of another felony regardless of whether or not it is intentional. For instance, if someone was killed during the commission of a rape or kidnapping, the first-degree murder charge would apply. Penalties for committing first-degree murder include either life in prison without the possibility of parole or the death penalty.
Whether or not the death penalty may be handed down depends on the facts of the case, and there are many defenses to a first-degree murder charge. For instance, an attorney may argue that a defendant did not know the nature of the act that he was committing at the time the crime was committed or that it was committed as an act of self-defense. If a murder was committed as an act of passion, the charge could be reduced to voluntary manslaughter.
Those who are convicted of a murder charge may spend the rest of their lives in prison or possibly face death. Therefore, it is almost always a good idea for an individual facing such a charge to talk with an attorney. An attorney may be able to create a defense that successfully casts doubt on the fact that an individual committed the crime that he or she is charged with.
If an attorney does cast doubt on the charge against an individual, it may be possible to have it thrown out or reduced through a plea bargain. This may mean that an individual faces less time in prison or has his or her sentence reduced to probation or a suspended sentence.