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Recent stabbing death: Was it murder or self defense?

A term commonly used in the criminal justice system is "mens rea," which is Latin for "guilty mind." Some acts are only considered criminal if the person committing them acted with malice or criminal intent. For example, there is a big difference between premeditated murder and accidentally killing someone in self defense.

A 35-year-old Michigan woman is facing the very serious charge of second-degree murder. A conviction would mean a total overhaul to not only her life, but also the lives of her three children. And while how this case will turn out is still unknown, as it was recently just announced that she will stand trial, there is still much that can be learned from her case.

The first thing is that her family and friends are distraught. According to an article in the Grand Rapids Press, the woman - who is accused of fatally stabbing her boyfriend last month -- is described as a non-violent person who chose to be in a relationship with the wrong person. Her aunt contends that her niece did not intend to kill the man, but believes she was simply trying to defend herself. This reaction may be due to the fact that her boyfriend had three convictions related to domestic violence on his record. He also spent time in prison for one of those convictions.

Those reading about this case may mistakenly think that just because someone is charged with a serious crime, he or she is automatically going to be found guilty and put in prison. While this is a very real possibility, those facing serious charges should know criminal defense options may still be available.

In general, the sooner someone can talk with a criminal defense attorney, the better. If possible, this should be done before talking with police, as an attorney is the one who can help make sure statements are not misunderstood or interpreted incorrectly. Having the proper representation can end up going a long way in the defendant's favor in the courtroom.

Source: WZZM, "Woman accused of stabbing boyfriend will stand trial," John Hogan, June 10, 2014

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