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Philadelphia Homicide, Manslaughter & Murder Attorney

Have you been arrested for murder or manslaughter in PA or NJ? If so, you are facing potentially years or a lifetime in prison, and possibly even the death penalty. When facing potentially life-altering criminal charges for a NJ or Philly homicide, your best option is to reach out to an experienced murder or manslaughter lawyer immediately at your first opportunity. Time is of the essence. Ready to discuss your case? We know how much is at stake. Call us to learn about your options and how we can help you.

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Former Chief Philadelphia Defender
Managing a Criminal Defense Practice of 250 Attorneys

Philadelphia Homicide Lawyer Defends Those Accused of Murder & Manslaughter Criminal Charges

Criminal Charges

Choosing a murder defense attorney is one of the most important decisions you will make. The lawyer you choose to defend you will advocate for you, negotiate for you, and build and strengthen your defense. You want an attorney who understands how the state (prosecution) will build their case against you so that they can have the best possible defense strategy.

Alan J. Tauber brings more than 30 years of experience providing professional legal assistance to his clients. When hired for a murder or manslaughter case, he pursues every possible path to get charges reduced to a lesser charge, or dismissed altogether. Tauber Law handles criminal defense cases in Pennsylvania (Philadelphia, Delaware, Montgomery, Bucks, and Chester counties) and in New Jersey (Camden, Burlington, Atlantic, and Mercer counties).

Criminal Homicide
Criminal Homicide

What Is Criminal Homicide in Pennsylvania & New Jersey?

Crimes of homicide involve killing another person or people, either intentionally or via acts of negligence, such as reckless or drunk driving. Whether a homicide is classified as murder, manslaughter, or lesser homicide depends on the circumstances of the event and the state of mind of the defendant.

Types of Homicide, Manslaughter, & Murder Charges We Defend in Pennsylvania

Homicide is the killing of another human, and the action is not automatically a crime. For example, homicide in self-defense may be justified (a murder defense lawyer can help make this argument). Criminal acts of homicide include murder and manslaughter, and are discussed below:

First-Degree Murder

First-degree murder, or murder in the first degree, is always a felony. The statute, 18 Pa. C.S. § 2502, defines it as an intentional killing. First-degree murder can take many forms, from acts of violence involving a firearm or knife, or less conventional deadly weapons like golf clubs, baseball bats, and even molded frozen icicles. Murder can also involve no particular weapon, using strangulation, poison, or carbon monoxide.

Second-Degree Murder

Murder in the second degree includes murders that occurred without premeditation, as well as murders that occur during the commission of a felony, such as kidnapping, robbery, arson, or carjacking. Your actions must indicate that you were aware your actions would cause bodily harm and that death could result. Actions involving a depraved indifference to human life that result in death can also lead to second-degree murder charges.

Third-Degree Murder

Just Three U.S. states have third-degree murder charges (Pennsylvania, Minnesota, and Florida), and this crime falls between murder and manslaughter charges. This crime generally involves the intent to cause bodily harm rather than death. Third-degree murder charges were brought (with other charges) against police officer Derek Chauvin in the 2020 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Voluntary Manslaughter

The difference between murder and manslaughter often comes down to the defendant’s state of mind when the act occurs. 18 Pa. C.S. § 2503 describes someone committing voluntary manslaughter as “acting under a sudden and intense passion resulting from serious provocation.” For example, finding out that someone committed an unthinkable act of abuse to your child or pet could be sufficient provocation to react with violence.

Involuntary Manslaughter

Involuntary manslaughter involves killing another individual without intent to do so, typically while committing a dangerous act. In other words, acts of negligence or recklessness, but without intent. Common examples include prescribing the wrong dosage of a drug or the accidental discharge of a firearm.

Drug Delivery Resulting in Death

Drug delivery resulting in death closely parallels third-degree murder charges, but involves death resulting from the administration of drugs (controlled substance or counterfeit controlled substance in violation of section 13(a)(14) or (30) of the Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act). Although a number of defenses are available, not intending for the victim to die is not one of them. The Commonwealth must prove you committed a Possession With Intent to Deliver offense first, so police may attempt to search your home or vehicle to match the drugs that delivered the fatal dose.

Criminal Homicide of a Law Enforcement Officer

Criminal homicide in PA that involves a law enforcement officer is given special attention. If a murder or manslaughter involves a law enforcement officer on duty (and you had full knowledge that they were a LEO), you may be charged with 18 Pa. C.S. § 2507.

Vehicular Homicide

There are two types of vehicular homicide in Pennsylvania:
  • Homicide by vehicle while driving under the influence: If you operate a vehicle while intoxicated, and cause an accident resulting in death to passengers or other motorists or pedestrians, you may be charged with this second-degree felony. If more than one person died, an additional separate count may be brought for each death.
  • Homicide by Vehicle: If no impairment is involved and you unintentionally kill another person by breaking a traffic law while engaging in reckless or grossly negligent driving, you may be charged with this form of manslaughter. Examples include deaths resulting from accidents where a driver was excessively speeding, running red lights or stop signs, or breaking other traffic laws.

Get Help from a Philadelphia Homicide, Murder & Manslaughter Attorney

If you are facing serious criminal charges, you do not have to face the criminal justice system alone. Hire a murder or manslaughter defense lawyer who will take your case seriously and fight for the best possible outcome. Tauber Law has courtroom experience that few law firms have. Contact us to see how we can help you.
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Punishments & Sentences for Manslaughter Convictions in Pennsylvania

Punishments for murder and manslaughter crimes vary in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. However, courts take these crimes seriously. The following are possible punishments for a murder and manslaughter offense:

First-Degree Murder

Death or a term of life imprisonment and a fine of up to $50,000. Note that “aggravated circumstances” can subject you to capital punishment.

Second-Degree Murder

A term of life imprisonment and a fine of up to $50,000.

Third-Degree Murder

A term which shall be fixed by the court at not more than 40 years.

1st-degree Felony

Up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000.

2nd-degree Felony

Up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000.

3rd-degree Felony

Up to 7 years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000.

1st-degree Misdemeanor

up to 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

A criminal homicide sentence in PA is determined in a sentencing hearing which is held separately from your trial (or guilty plea).

Punishments & Sentences for Manslaughter Convictions
Defenses to Philadelphia Murder & Manslaughter Charges
Defenses to Philadelphia Murder & Manslaughter Charges

Defenses to Philadelphia Murder & Manslaughter Charges

Several defenses are available to murder and manslaughter charges. Below are some of the defenses that a murder or manslaughter defense attorney in NJ or PA can help you establish:

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    Accidental killing without intent: You had no intention to commit the murder, and you were engaged in lawful activity.

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    Actual innocence: The state does not have evidence to prove all the elements of the crime.

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    Battered woman’s syndrome: Women who are victims of intimate partner violence may be held hostage in a home, and believe if they leave, their partner will track them down and kill them.

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    Involuntary intoxication: If you were intoxicated against your will or unknowingly.

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    Insanity: This is an excuse defense, and not a justification defense - and only applies in limited circumstances. In Pennsylvania, a person may be found guilty but mentally ill.

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    Mistaken identity: A witness or law enforcement identified you as the perpetrator of the crime, but they were wrong. The state has the burden of proof to demonstrate that their identification is accurate.

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    Self-defense (Justifiable homicide): If you reasonably believed your life, or someone else's life was in danger, your use of deadly force as a means of protection may be justifiable.

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    Violation of Constitutional Rights: It is not common in a murder or manslaughter case, but if a confession is illegally obtained, or if you are not read your Miranda rights, this may be grounds for suppression of resulting statements or evidence.

Anyone facing criminal charges is well-advised to speak with a homicide defense lawyer as soon as possible about their unique situation and potential defenses available.

If You Were Charged, Our Philadelphia Homicide Lawyer Can Help

Murder and manslaughter charges will not go away on their own. If you are facing charges (or believe they are coming), do not wait to speak with a murder or manslaughter defense attorney.
Get a Free Consultation

Why Choose a Pennsylvania & New Jersey Homicide Attorney from Tauber Law?

Alan J. Tauber has more than three decades of experience in state and federal criminal courts, including as Chief of the Defender Association of Philadelphia. Very few attorneys have the courtroom experience that Tauber Law offers his clients. When your future is hanging in the balance, do not trust your case to an inexperienced lawyer. He knows the courts, he knows the judges, and he knows the prosecutors. He can identify the strengths and weaknesses of a criminal case and put you in the best position to get your charges dropped or reduced - or fight them in court.

Alan Tauber

Our Case Studies

View More Case Results

Civil Rights


Settlement for malicious prosecution

Our client was falsely arrested, maliciously prosecuted, and served 28 years in prison. After we won our client’s exoneration, the City of Philadelphia settled the case pre-suit for a record amount.

Civil Rights


Settlement for malicious prosecution and false arrest

Our client was falsely accused of shooting at the police, and he was wrongfully jailed for more than three years. He was acquitted in a criminal trial, and the City of Philadelphia ultimately paid a $3.8 million settlement.

Personal Injury


Medical Malpractice

Surgeon left medical device in patient during surgery resulting in a critical infection.

Personal Injury


Automobile negligence

Fatal car accident ended with payment of all available insurance proceeds.

What Our Clients Say

Alan personally handled the investigation in my case that uncovered explosive facts about one of the defendants which had an important impact on the settlement of the case. His personal commitment made all the difference.
After other lawyers rejected my case, Alan saw the merit, did the needed investigation and won me a settlement I thought I might never see.
Alan's never say die attitude led to him discovering the existence of a second insurance policy that covered the accident and nearly tripled the settlement value in our case. It has had a big impact on our lives. As far as I am concerned, Tauber Law is the best Philadelphia personal injury law firm out there.

Schedule a Free Case Evaluation with a Philadelphia Homicide Defense Attorney

Need an experienced homicide lawyer in Philadelphia immediately? If you are facing criminal charges, do not wait. Time may be critical. Tauber Law is available seven days a week to review your potential case and answer your questions. In-person and online case evaluations are available. Contact us to schedule your consultation today.
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How much does a murder lawyer cost in PA and NJ?

When your future is at stake, you can’t afford to not have a lawyer. Costs for legal representation for the crime of murder vary widely depending on the nature of the charges, the experience of your attorney, and your geographic area. Various fee structures are available, including hourly and flat fees.

What are homicide sentencing factors for first-degree murder?

Persons convicted of first-degree murder will receive either mandatory life in prison or death. If certain aggravating circumstances apply (42 Pa.C.S. § 9711), the court may consider a sentence of death. These include killing a law enforcement officer or fireman on duty, killing a minor under the age of 12, and killing someone in the third trimester of their pregnancy.

What’s the difference between murder and manslaughter?

Every state has its own definition of different criminal acts. Generally, murder involves the element of “malice.” Manslaughter is the killing of another person (either voluntarily or involuntarily), without “malice aforethought,” also sometimes called “premeditation”.

How can you negotiate a plea bargain for homicide charges in Philly?

A plea bargain is essentially a “deal” where the D.A.’s office agrees to reduce or drop charges in exchange for a guilty plea. An experienced criminal defense lawyer can help you make this decision, and advocate for the best possible outcome.