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Extenuating circumstances can affect murder charges

When you are accused of a serious crime, you may wonder if there is any chance of avoiding jail time, especially if the evidence is heavily stacked against you. Last week, we talked about some of the options your can employ to defend against drug charges, offering some viable options even if you are arrested with drugs in your possession. It may surprise you to learn that similar options can be used in other serious charges, including murder.

Recently in Florida, a 15-year-old girl pleaded no contest to fatally shooting her older brother. According to police, the girl's parents left for work-related reasons and left her and her two younger sisters to be supervised by their 16-year-old brother. The brother locked the 15-year-old girl in her room, but she escaped and retrieved a pistol from her parents' bedroom. She then instructed her sisters to hide in a closet as she went and shot her sleeping brother in the neck.

Though the evidence was clearly stacked against her, and she had no feasible option to deny the murder, she was not charged. It was later discovered that the girl had suffered years of abuse from her parents and brother, including being locked in her room for days with only a bucket, which served as her toilet since she could not go to the bathroom, and a blanket. Based on this abuse, a state attorney alluded that the best thing for the girl is not jail time, but years of therapy and counseling.

The 15-year-old girl will receive probation until her 19th birthday, as long as she regularly attends counseling to help her transition into a healthy adult life. There are many people who commit violent crimes in acts of self-defense, and if they are caught, they may fear that their crime will lead to punishment. However, with the help of an attorney, you can prove to the courts that there were extenuating circumstances in your crime.

Source: NBC News, "No Jail for 15-Year-Old in Brother's Slaying," March 5, 2015

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