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NY Penal Law § 125.26: Aggravated Murder

July 1, 2020 Federal Criminal Attorneys

If you intentionally cause the death of another person, you will face a homicide charge. There are a number of different offenses in the New York criminal code connected with the crime of taking the life of another person.  These include homicide, manslaughter and murder. Of all of the offenses that are related to homicide, the most heinous are murder in the first degree, murder in the second degree, and aggravated murder. Every one of these is a class A-I felony.  What this means to you is that if you are convicted, you could be sentenced to life in prison.  Under New York Penal Law § 125.26, you could face prosecution for aggravated murder if you:

  1. Intentionally brought about the death of another individual who was a police officer or a peace officer in the process of carrying out his or her official duties,
  2. Intentionally brought about the death of another individual and the victim was a firefighter, emergency medical technician, paramedic, ambulance driver, physician or registered nurse responding to an emergency,
  3. Intentionally brought about the death of another individual and the victim was an employee of a state correctional facility (such as a corrections officer) performing his or her official duties, or
  4. Brought about the death of a child who was younger than 14 years old in a particularly cruel manner, such as by initially torturing the victim.

A Case Law Example

A deputy sheriff responded to a 911 call in which the neighbors of the defendant, Mr. Christian Patterson, reported noise from a domestic dispute between Patterson and his girlfriend.  They also reported that they believed that Mr. Patterson might be armed. When the deputy arrived, Patterson indeed had a shotgun in his hand and refused to surrender to law enforcement officials. At some point during his interaction with police, Mr. Patterson was knocked down and he released the gun. The deputy then approached Mr. Patterson, intending to shoot him with a taser. All of a sudden, Patterson grabbed for ]his shotgun and shot and killed the deputy sheriff. Patterson was subsequently convicted of aggravated murder. His case was the People v. Patterson, 2014 NY Slip Op 1853 (N.Y. App. Div., 2014)

Offenses that are Related

Murder in the second degree: New York Penal Law § 125.25

Murder in the first degree: New York Penal Law § 125.27

Possible Defenses

You have a defense under New York Penal Law § 125.26(3)(a) against an aggravated murder charge if you killed another individual while under the influence of an extreme emotional disturbance for which there exists a reasonable explanation. That said, if you were truly acting under an extreme emotional disturbance, you still could face prosecution for a manslaughter charge.

The Sentence

Due to the fact that aggravated murder is categorized as a class A-I felony, you could be sentenced to life in prison.



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