New York Penal Law § 125.26: Aggravated murder

If you intentionally cause the death of another person, you will face a homicide charge. There are several different offenses in the New York criminal code related to taking the life of another person including homicide, manslaughter and murder. Of all of the crimes related to homicide, the most serious are murder in the first degree, murder in the second degree, and aggravated murder. Each is a class A-I felony, meaning that if you are convicted you could be sentenced to life in prison. Under New York Penal Law § 125.26, you could be prosecuted for aggravated murder if you:

  1. Intentionally caused the death of another person who was a police officer or a peace officer performing his or her official duties,

  2. Intentionally caused the death of another person and the victim was a firefighter, emergency medical technician, ambulance driver, paramedic, physician or registered nurse responding to an emergency,

  3. Intentionally caused the death of another person and the victim was an employee of a state correctional facility performing his or her official duties, or

  4. Caused the death of someone who was less than 14 years old or younger in a particularly cruel manner, such as by first torturing the victim.

Example

A deputy sheriff responded to a 911 call in which the neighbors of defendant Christian Patterson reported a domestic dispute between Patterson and his girlfriend and that Patterson might be armed. When the deputy arrived Patterson had a shotgun in his hand and refused to surrender. At some point Patterson was knocked down and released the gun. The deputy approached Patterson intending to shot him with a taser. Patterson picked up his shotgun and shot and killed the deputy. Patterson was convicted of aggravated murder. People v. Patterson, 2014 NY Slip Op 1853 (N.Y. App. Div., 2014)

Related Offenses
  1. Murder in the second degree: New York Penal Law § 125.25
  2. Murder in the first degree: New York Penal Law § 125.27
Defenses

Under New York Penal Law § 125.26(3)(a), you have a defense against an aggravated murder charge if you killed someone while under the influence of an extreme emotional disturbance for which there is a reasonable explanation. However, if you acted under an extreme emotional disturbance, you still could be prosecuted for manslaughter.

Sentence

Because aggravated murder is a class A-I felony, you could be sentenced to life in prison.

New York Penal Law § 125.26: Aggravated murder

A person is guilty of aggravated murder when:

  1. With intent to cause the death of another person, he or she causes the death of such person, or of a third person who was a person described in subparagraph (i), (ii), (ii-a) or (iii) of paragraph (a) of this subdivision engaged at the time of the killing in the course of performing his or her official duties; and

    1. Either:

      1. the intended victim was a police officer as defined in subdivision thirty-four of § 1.20 of the criminal procedure law who was at the time of the killing engaged in the course of performing his or her official duties, and the defendant knew or reasonably should have known that the victim was a police officer; or

      2. the intended victim was a peace officer as defined in paragraph a of subdivision twenty-one, subdivision twenty-three, twenty-four or sixty-two (employees of the division for youth) of § 2.10 of the criminal procedure law who was at the time of the killing engaged in the course of performing his or her official duties, and the defendant knew or reasonably should have known that the victim was such a uniformed court officer, parole officer, probation officer, or employee of the division for youth; or (ii-a) the intended victim was a firefighter, emergency medical technician, ambulance driver, paramedic, physician or registered nurse involved in a first response team, or any other individual who, in the course of official duties, performs emergency response activities and was engaged in such activities at the time of killing and the defendant knew or reasonably should have known that the intended victim was such firefighter, emergency medical technician, ambulance driver, paramedic, physician or registered nurse; or

      3. the intended victim was an employee of a state correctional institution or was an employee of a local correctional facility as defined in subdivision two of section forty of the correction law, who was at the time of the killing engaged in the course of performing his or her official duties, and the defendant knew or reasonably should have known that the victim was an employee of a state correctional institution or a local correctional facility; and

    2. The defendant was more than eighteen years old at the time of the commission of the crime; or

    1. With intent to cause the death of a person less than fourteen years old, he or she causes the death of such person, and the defendant acted in an especially cruel and wanton manner pursuant to a course of conduct intended to inflict and inflicting torture upon the victim prior to the victim's death. As used in this subdivision, "torture" means the intentional and depraved infliction of extreme physical pain that is separate and apart from the pain which otherwise would have been associated with such cause of death; and

    2. The defendant was more than eighteen years old at the time of the commission of the crime.

  2. In any prosecution under subdivision one or two of this section, it is an affirmative defense that:

    1. The defendant acted under the influence of extreme emotional disturbance for which there was a reasonable explanation or excuse, the reasonableness of which is to be determined from the viewpoint of a person in the defendant's situation under the circumstances as the defendant believed them to be. Nothing contained in this paragraph shall constitute a defense to a prosecution for, or preclude a conviction of, aggravated manslaughter in the first degree, manslaughter in the first degree or any other crime except murder in the second degree; or

    2. The defendant's conduct consisted of causing or aiding, without the use of duress or deception, another person to commit suicide. Nothing contained in this paragraph shall constitute a defense to a prosecution for, or preclude a conviction of, aggravated manslaughter in the second degree, manslaughter in the second degree or any other crime except murder in the second degree.

Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates

If you are convicted of aggravated murder you could end up in prison for the rest of your life. However, just because you were charged with this crime does not mean that you will be convicted. There may be defenses that may result in the charges against you being dropped or reduced. Thus, it is important that you immediately seek experienced legal guidance. The staff at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates has years of experience successfully defending clients in New York criminal courts who have been charged with vehicular manslaughter, manslaughter, conspiracy, murder and other serious crimes. Contact us at 1-800-NY-NY-LAW (1-800-696-9529) to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case. We serve those accused of crimes in the following locations: the Bronx, Brooklyn, Long Island, Manhattan, Nassau County, Queens, Staten Island, Suffolk County and Westchester County.

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