A depraved heart murder charge is very different than that of a standard murder charge.
This year, many Wisconsin residents along with their counterparts in other states have heard about a unique type of murder charge. This is known as depraved heart murder. A case in the Northeast has resulted in widespread national media attention and brought this topic to the minds of people everywhere. Perhaps the reason for the attention it has garnered is because of how unique this charge is.
Depraved heart murder, like murder and manslaughter, is a serious criminal offense with equally serious consequences for defendants who are found guilty. Proving guilt in a depraved heart murder case, however, is very different than in a regular murder case.
The key difference
The Wisconsin State Legislature makes clear that a person who causes the death of another intentionally can be charged with murder, a Class A felony. It is not simply the death of another person that is important here but also the direct intent on the part of the alleged perpetrator that can lead to this charge.
CBS News explains that the premeditated intent to cause another person's death is not evident in a depraved heart murder case. Instead, this charge alleges that one person caused the death of another by an action or set of actions that showed complete disregard for the victim's humanity.
How is a person convicted of depraved heart murder?
Time magazine outlines that the standards by which a defendant can be deemed guilty in a depraved heart murder case are different than the standards used in other murder cases. A prosecutor only needs to prove to a jury that the defendant did in fact take the actions that led to the death of the victim. If a jury believes this to be proven, a guilty verdict can be returned.
A case being watched by the nation
It is a case in Baltimore that has the eyes of a nation on it. Six Baltimore police officers are accused of involvement in the death of a man under their arrest. One of the officers is charged with depraved heart murder. Three of the officers are facing manslaughter charges.
At the core of the case is the allegation that while handcuffed and in police custody, the victim indicated a need for medical attention. His request was reportedly ignored. Prosecutors allege that it was the lack of response to the victim's requests that caused his death. Furthermore, the lack of response on the part of the one officer is alleged to have been without appropriate concern for the victim's humanity.
Requests to move the trial to another jurisdiction were denied according to the New York Times. As more unfolds, additional information about depraved heart murder cases may also be learned.
In the meantime, any people in Wisconsin accused of murder or other serious felonies should know that they deserve proper legal help. Contacting an attorney as soon as possible is the best course of action at these times.