A harrowing FBI report in 2015 painted Birmingham as a high crime city. In terms of numbers, Birmingham has long ranked near the top of nationwide crime rankings. In fact, it notched the 5th spot in violent crime, property crime and overall crime among large cities in the latest batch of crime statistics released by the FBI.
Birmingham’s homicide rate ranked 7th among cities with populations of more than 100,000. In 2014, there were 59 homicides out of a population of 212,115. In 2012 it saw 66, 72 in 2012, 57 in 2011, 62 in 2010, 71 in 2009, 88 in 2008, 93 in 2007, 109 in 2006 and 105 in 2005.
With the high crime rate comes increased police scrutiny and overzealous prosecutions. Law enforcement typically uses these tactics to squash an increasing crime rate. Therefore, if you are accused of murder or another violent crime in Birmingham, understand your rights.
In Alabama, property crime covers burglary, larceny, motor vehicle theft, and arson. These crimes are defined as non-violent crimes because they lack the aspect of force and bodily harm to the victim.
Violent crime covers homicide, rape, robbery, and assault. These crimes are defined as violent crimes because they have the aspect of force and bodily harm against a person with a high risk of injury or death to the victim.
Murder and manslaughter is the willful killing of one human being by another. Not covered under this offense classification is are deaths caused by negligence, suicide, accident, and justifiable homicides, which are the killings of felons by law enforcement officers in the line of duty or by private citizens. Attempted murder is not included and is categorized as aggravated assaults.
Capital Punishment for Murder
Moreover, Alabama law provides for capital punishment for homicide and stiff penalties for other violent crimes. Specifically capital punishment for homicide can occur when the defendant, under these aggravating circumstances, commits homicide:
- during a hijacking, kidnapping, arson, rape, sodomy, or sexual abuse;
- using explosives, during a drive-by shooting, or while the victim was inside a vehicle or home
- when the victim is under 14 years old;
- when two or more people are murdered;
- when the victim was a law enforcement officer, prison guard, or state or federal public official while on duty or acting in official capacity;
- when the victim is, was, or would be a witness to a court proceeding related to the defendant;
- while under a life imprisonment sentence;
- if previously convicted in the past 20 years of another murder; or
- for money.
Understanding Your Defenses
A defendant who provides the following mitigating claims may be able to counter the aggravating circumstances, when the defendant:
- lacks a rap sheet of prior criminal activity;
- acted under the influence of extreme mental or emotional disturbance at the time of the crime;
- lacked the capacity to appreciate the criminality of his or her actions;
- was an accomplice with minor participation;
- acted under extreme duress or under the substantial control of another person.
Get Legal Help
If you are accused of murder, you need aggressive representation to counter zealous prosecutors. You need to contact the criminal defense firm of Parkman White, criminal defense attorneys who will fight for your rights.