Criminal Defense Attorney - Homicide
To successfully defend against criminal charges in St. Johns County you need a St. Augustine criminal defense attorney with courtroom experience. Attorney Christy Opsahl is a former prosecutor with extensive trial experience. She handles a variety of criminal offenses including misdemeanors, felonies, and juvenile delinquency.
Ms. Opsahl has experience handling cases with a variety of sentencing enhancements, such as Habitual Felony Offender (HFO), Habitual Violent Felony Offender (HVFO), Violent Career Criminals, 10-20-Life, and Prison Releasee Reoffenders (PRR).
Homicides may be intentional or unintentional, and both have serious consequences involving significant prison time or death. There is a range of degrees of homicides that affect the severity of the sentence imposed. It is crucial to hire an attorney with jury trial experience when faced with prosecution for any degree of homicide. DUI manslaughter, Leaving the scene involving death, aggravated manslaughter, manslaughter, attempted murder, felony murder up to capital first-degree murder all require significant legal analysis to effectively represent a defendant facing such serious charges.
The use of a weapon, extent of injuries, prior record, premeditation, and state of mind of the accused are all factors that will determine the severity or degree of the crime charged and sentence imposed.
Possession or Use of a Weapon during the commission of a homicide or attempted homicide as an enhancement will require the State to prove separate and distinct evidence aside from the underlying charge. It is important to hire an attorney familiar with the statutory enhancements that weapons trigger, and experience with the legal defenses that often accompany homicides. These defenses include self-defense and Stand Your Ground immunity. These defenses may be absolute defenses meaning you cannot be charged with the particular crime, or they may be affirmative defenses that are factors to be determined by a jury that would require going to trial. Both types of defense require in-depth legal analysis into the facts of the case and knowledge of the implication of the applicable laws.
Possession or Use of a Firearm during the commission of a homicide or attempted homicide has its own distinct set of laws that can trigger minimum mandatory sentences. A minimum mandatory is a defined minimum period of incarceration that a judge must impose if convicted of a crime involving a firearm. This requires a separate finding of proof by a jury or fact finder. Minimum mandatory sentences may affect any gain time or good behavior credit given while incarcerated. It is crucial that your case is analyzed by an experienced trial attorney who understands the ramifications of a minimum mandatory sentence on your disposition and has the ability to decipher any defenses that may remove the imposition of a minimum mandatory sentence. Possession of a firearm, discharge of a firearm, and discharge causing great bodily harm are all factual determinations that may trigger a minimum mandatory sentence being imposed.
Homicides and attempted homicides often involve forensic evidence that needs to be examined. The operability of a firearm, ballistics, gun-shot residue, blood spatter, projectile trajectory, DNA, fingerprints, cause and manner of death, autopsy reports, toxicology analysis, K-9 dog tracking, and scientific expert opinion testimony are all evidentiary issues arising in homicide investigations. Hire an attorney with trial experience in all of these areas to adequately represent you whether it be to negotiate a plea offer or try the case before a jury.