Murder Charges In Pennsylvania

Murder Charges In Philadelphia

Charged with murder or manslaughter in PA?

You have to take action today to get ahead of the situation.



Being charged with an unlawful killing in Pennsylvania is arguably the most serious offense in our criminal code. The penalties if convicted include the death penalty and life imprisonment without parole. You should absolutely, positively make sure you have an attorney to walk you through this process. You need a plan to fight these charges.

Call 215-650-6500 to discuss your options or get a second opinion from attorney Stephen Stewart.

Are you unsure about which degree of murder you or your loved one is accused of committing?

In Pennsylvania, there are three degrees of murder, plus voluntary manslaughter and involuntary manslaughter. The prosecution’s burden of proof and the potential penalties are different for each kind of homicide.

  • Murder of the First Degree is the most serious level. This is a premeditated murder with malice. Premeditation can be formed in a split second. The Commonwealth’s prosecutors will be required to prove that the accused had a specific intent to kill based on words or actions, including the defendant’s use of a deadly weapon.
  • Murder of the Second Degree is an unlawful killing committed while the accused was engaged as a principal or an accomplice in the perpetration of a felony. The criminal code specifies which crimes will result in a charge of second-degree murder if someone is killed during the commission of the crime.

    The act of the defendant in engaging in or being an accomplice in the commission of, or an attempt to commit, or flight after committing, or attempting to commit robbery, rape, or deviate sexual intercourse by force or threat of force, arson, burglary or kidnapping.

  • Murder of the Third Degree is defined as all other kinds of murder. Among other situations, this could include a defendant committing other unlawful acts or crimes that result in the death of another but without a specific intent to kill.
  • Voluntary Manslaughter is when a defendant killed another without lawful justification and at the time of the killing he or she is acting under a sudden and intense passion resulting from serious provocation by the individual killed or another whom the actor endeavors to kill, but he or she negligently or accidentally causes the death of the individual killed. Also, a person who intentionally or knowingly kills an individual commits voluntary manslaughter if at the time of the killing he or she believes the circumstances to be such that, if they existed, would justify the killing, but his or her belief is unreasonable.
  • Involuntary Manslaughter is when the defendant causes the death of another person as a direct result of the doing of an unlawful act in a reckless or grossly negligent manner, or the doing of a lawful act in a reckless or grossly negligent manner. Involuntary manslaughter is the only level of homicide in PA that is graded as a misdemeanor.

Wondering what the possible sentences are if convicted of murder in Pennsylvania? The penalties vary based on the degree of murder or manslaughter, the unique facts of the case, the defendant’s prior record and life circumstances, and whether or not the conviction is the result of a trial or a plea bargain. In some cases, the sentence is mandatory. Call attorney Stephen Stewart at 215-650-6500 to discuss your particular situation.

What if my loved one or I already have an attorney? If you or your loved one has already had a court date in a murder case, a public defender, a court-appointed attorney, or another privately retained attorney will be on the case. Attorney Stephen Stewart can offer a second opinion and potentially an alternative approach to fighting the charges if you are unhappy with your current representation. Book An Appointment to discuss.

Most Common Case Types

Click below for information on specific charges.




Gun Charges (VUFA)

Drug Crimes (PWID)

Sex Crimes (SORNA)

White Collar




Internet Crimes


Domestic Violence

Juvenile Defense

Juveniles Charged as Adults

Megan’s Law (SORNA)