Laguzzi Law
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Homicide & Death Penalty
When charged such serious crimes as homicide, felony murder and vehicular manslaughter, the defendant is innocent until proven guilty. This fact is often forgotten by the public and even by law enforcement but we never forget it. We know every client is entitled to an effective, aggressive defense.

We immediately begin our own investigation, with experience private investigators into the murder charges immediately. The investigation includes interviewing the client extensively and talking to family members and potential witnesses about the crime and why the client was arrested. Investigators take pictures of the crime scene, examine the forensic evidence, and talk to witnesses. The lawyers look for answers in preparing a defense.

  • What was the victim's alleged motive?
  • Why was the client charged?
  • Who are the witnesses - and what are their motives?
  • What is the client's mental capacity?
  • What are all the circumstances of the crime?

High Profile Murder Cases

High profile murder cases are especially sensitive. The media reports on cases without knowing all the facts. As a result, the public often forms opinions regardless of the truth, which can affect your reputation and may pressure law enforcement to proceed with a case before having adequate evidence against you.

Our criminal homicide defense lawyers have tried serious, high profile cases. We are well known by the prosecutors and judges. We have extensive trial experience. No matter what the charges, from bail hearing to any appeals, we protect the rights and interests of our clients throughout the criminal justice process.

If you or a family member was charged with murder or negligent homicide, assault, battery call us for help.

The Death Penalty

Execution as a form of punishment in Pennsylvania dates back to the time the first colonists arrived in the late 1600s. At that time, public hanging was capital punishment for a variety of crimes, ranging from burglary and robbery, to piracy, rape, and buggery (in Pennsylvania at the time, "buggery" referred to sex with animals). In 1972, the Pennsylvania State Supreme Court ruled in Commonwealth v. Bradley that the death penalty was unconstitutional, using as precedence the earlier U.S. Supreme Court decision in Furman v. Georgia. At the time, there were about two dozen death cases in the Pennsylvania prison system. All were removed from death row and sentenced to life. In 1974, the law was resurrected for a time, before the PA Supreme Court again declared the law to be unconstitutional in a December 1977 decision. The state legislature quickly drafted a new version, which went into effect in September 1978, over the veto of Governor Shapp. This death penalty law, which remains in effect today, has been upheld in several recent appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court. The death penalty may only be applied in Pennsylvania in cases where a defendant is found guilty of first degree murder. A separate hearing is held for the consideration of aggravating and mitigating circumstances. If at least one of the ten aggravating circumstances listed in the law and none of the eight mitigating factors are found to be present, the verdict must be death.

The next step is formal sentencing by the judge. Frequently, there is a delay between the sentence verdict and formal sentencing as post-trial motions are heard and considered. An automatic review of the case by the state Supreme Court follows sentencing. The court can either uphold the sentence or vacate for imposition of a life sentence.

If the Supreme Court affirms the sentence, the case goes to the Governor's Office where it is reviewed by appropriate legal counsel and, ultimately, by the Governor himself. Only the Governor may set the execution date, which is done through the signing of a document known as the Governor's Warrant. By law, all executions are carried out at the State Correctional Institution at Rockview.

The statements above constitute general advice and do not form an attorney-client privilege. Please contact our office to schedule an appointment to officially retain counsel. (c) 2011.

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