First Degree Intentional Homicide

First Degree Intentional Homicide is defined by section 940.01 of Wisconsin Statutes as committed by someone who causes the death of another human being with the intent to kill that person or another.  This means that if a Defendant is trying to kill one person, and mistakenly kills someone else, they can be charged with First Degree Intentional Homicide.  This charge is the most serious of all crimes.  It is a felony, and the likely sentence for someone convicted of First Degree Intentional Homicide is life in prison. Elements of this charge are:

  • The Defendant caused the Death of another human being.
  • The Defendant acted with the Intent to kill that human being.
  • “Intent to kill” means that the Defendant had the mental purpose to take the life of another human being or was aware that his/her conduct was practically certain to cause the death of another human being.
  • “Intent to kill” does not require that the intent exists for any particular length of time before the act is committed.  There is no requirement that the intent exist for a week, a day, an hour, or even a minute.  The intent to kill may be formed at any time before the act, including the moment before the death.
  • Intent to kill is different from motive to kill.  There is no requirement for the State to prove that a motive existed at the time of death, only that the Defendant intended to kill the person.

Self-defense is obviously an important affirmative defense to a charge of First Degree Intentional Homicide, as well as any Homicide charge.  It is NEVER helpful to a defendant to talk to the police and try to explain his/her side of the story.  I’ve seen time and time again where people go in and tell the authorities their story only to have it come back to hurt their defense.  It is crucial to hire an experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer immediately.

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