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In a Rhode Island Manslaughter case, you have the same defenses that are available to you in every case, but the stakes are considerably heightened. As a result, an attorney needs to do an extensive amount of investigation and discovery. An attorney must be well-versed in forensic evidence. She also must be skilled in both the direct and cross examinations of expert witnesses.
Many Rhode Island Manslaughter cases are whodunits. In these cases, a skillful lawyer may able to present an effective alibi defense. By calling alibi witnesses, or effectively pointing to scientific/forensic/trace evidence, an experienced defense attorney may successfully persuade a jury that his client was somewhere else when the murder occurred. Even without an affirmative alibi defense, a criminal defense attorney may be able to attack and/or suppress the photo array or lineup identification of the perpetrator. In so doing, an attorney can argue to the jury that reasonable doubt exists regarding his client’s presence at the murder scene.
A Rhode Island Manslaughter case may revolve around the issue of self-defense in a mutual combat situation. If a lawyer is successful in creating a reasonable doubt as to whether a death was the result of self-defense, the accused is entitled to a not guilty verdict. The Supreme Judicial Court has recently ruled that it is proper in these cases for a criminal defense lawyer to introduce evidence of the murder victim’s violent nature or past.
Sometimes it is clear a person committed the crime, but it’s also evident that the person was not in his or her right mind when he did it. That scenario may give rise to a “lack of criminal responsibility” defense, commonly known as an “insanity” defense. Even if a mental disease or defect does not rise to the level of insanity, a person’s impaired state of mind may help to convince a judge or jury that the murder charge should be reduced. For example, a person may have been under extreme stress or some other influence that prevented him from premeditating the crime. In that case, the charge could be reduced from first-degree murder to second-degree murder. If a person’s mind was impaired to such a degree that he was unable to form the requisite “malice aforethought,” he might be found guilty of manslaughter, which has significantly reduced penalties.
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