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Murder & Aggravated Murder

To be charged with murder, you must have done one of the following:

  • Purposely killed someone or unlawfully terminated their pregnancy
  • Killed someone as a result of an act of violence that’s a first- or second-degree offense, except for manslaughter
Aggravated murder is more severe offense. To qualify for this crime, you must have done one of the following:
  • Killed someone or unlawfully terminated their pregnancy purposely and with planning in place
  • Killed someone or unlawfully terminated their pregnancy while committing, attempting to commit or fleeing after committing kidnapping, rape, aggravated arson, arson, aggravated robbery, robbery, aggravated burglary, burglary, trespass in a habitation when a person is present or likely to be present, terrorism, or escape
  • Purposely killed someone under 13
  • Purposely killed someone while in prison for another felony or while escaped from prison
  • Purposely killed a law officer while one of the following is true:
    • He or she was engaged in official duties
    • You specifically meant to kill a law enforcement officer

There is no criminal case more sensitive or consequences more serious than when a person loses their life.  Murder and aggravated murder charges are both first-degree felonies. Depending on the severity of the allegations, murder or aggravated murder charges are punishable by up to life in prison and the death penalty in the most serious circumstances.

Simply put, if you are convicted of murder or aggravated murder, at a minimum, it will be on your criminal background for the rest of your life. No matter what the circumstances were in your case, your life will never be the same. Therefore, it is critical that you give the defense of your murder or aggravated murder charge the highest level of importance.

The Columbus Criminal Defense team will take an aggressive and comprehensive approach when representing clients charged murder or aggravated murder. First and foremost, we will figure out what mistakes the police or detectives made during their investigation, whether your arrest was lawful, if there were any problems in the collection, storage or testing of evidence and any other legal issues that can be raised on your behalf.

We do this by requesting discovery from the prosecutor and by conducting our own investigation. The discovery will generally consist of police reports, additional investigative notes, lab reports and potentially video or audio.

Our investigation will consist of going to the scene, interviewing all witnesses and potentially hiring a private detective for further investigation.  As our client, you will receive a copy of everything received from the prosecutor and our investigation for your review

Based on the legal weaknesses in the State of Ohio’s case and any other mitigating factors, we will negotiate the best possible plea available with the prosecutor for you to consider in resolving your case.

If your case cannot be resolved satisfactorily with a plea, it would then proceed to a motion hearing (a hearing where the judge issues a ruling on an evidentiary issue) or a trial to the judge or jury, depending on the circumstances.

For nearly ten years, the Columbus Criminal Defense team has successfully represented clients charged with criminal offenses from minor misdemeanors to first degree felonies. That extensive previous experience will enable us to better help you.

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If you’ve been charged with murder, aggravated murder or attempted murder, it’s important to know what you’re up against. If you have any questions left unanswered by this page, or if you need a competent, experienced Columbus violent crimes attorney to fight for you in court, please contact us at or via email at

The penalties for murder are as follows:
  • A mandatory prison sentence ranging from 15 years to life
  • At most, a fine of $15,000
The penalties are as follows:
  • A mandatory prison sentence ranging from 30 years to life
  • At most, a fine of $15,000
The penalties are as follows:
  •  A mandatory prison sentence of life without parole
  • At most, a fine of $15,000
  • Required registration as a sex offender every 90 days; community notification of sex offender status
The penalties are as follows:
  • Either the death penalty or life imprisonment
  • At most, a fine of $25,000
This is a felony of the first degree and carries the following penalties:
  • A mandatory prison sentence of three to 11 years
  • A possible fine ranging from $10,000 to $20,000
  • If a car was used as a means to attempt the offense, your driver’s license will be suspended from three years to life
Have a question we didn’t answer below? Feel free to email us or call us and we’ll help you out.
Unlike homicide, murder involves negative intentions and some degree of planning–whether elaborate or merely in the moment. Homicide is simply killing one other person without planning and sometimes without intending to kill them.
In cases where the death penalty is an option, the jury will decide whether to sentence you to it, life without parole or life with a 30-year or 25-year period where parole is not allowed.The governor also has the option of granting clemency, usually giving those sentenced to the death penalty a lesser sentence, such as life without parole.

If you were under 18 years old when you committed the crime, or if you are judged to be mentally incompetent, you will not face the death penalty.

To be convicted of a “capital offense,” or aggravated murder that is punishable by the death penallty, you must have done any of the following:

  • Created a serious risk of death for anyone besides the victim
  • Committed the murder for money or in accordance with an agreement that you’d receive something of value in exchange
  • Committed the murder while incarcerated in prison, escaped from prison, on probation, in jail or under a sentence of imprisonment
  • Murdered someone under 13 years of age with prior planning
  • Murdered a president of the United States, the president-elect or vice president-elect, a person in line of succession to the presidency, the governor or lieutenant governor of Ohio, the governor-elect of Ohio or a candidate for any of these offices
  • Murdered a witness in a trial to prevent them from appearing, or for revenge
  • Committed the murder while committing, attempting to commit or fleeing immediately after committing or attempting to commit terrorism

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Luftman, Heck & Associates LLP
580 E Rich St Fl 2
Columbus, OH 43215-5335


FAX: (614) 413-2886