Have you or a loved one been arrested or charged with homicide in Columbus, OH? Do not delay in calling the Law Office James D. Owen, LLC for immediate assistance. Our Columbus homicide defense lawyer are here to help you fight these serious charges and work hard to protect your future.

How Will a Criminal Defense Lawyer Help Me If I’m Facing Homicide Charges in Columbus?

As you might imagine, homicide carries the harshest penalties of any crime. For this reason, it is imperative that you have experienced legal representation. A qualified Columbus criminal defense attorney understands the law and knows how to build a strong defense to these serious charges.

If you are charged with homicide, Mr. Owen will make sure that your rights are protected, which includes looking into any constitutional violations that may impact the prosecution’s case. Our homicide attorney have over 25 years of experience specializing in the practice area of criminal law. We understand these sensitive matters and have a record of success with even the toughest of criminal homicide cases. In fact, we’ve secured multiple not guilty verdicts for clients in Aggravated Murder, Murder, Manslaughter, and Vehicular Homicide cases.

Our firm will work aggressively for you, conducting a thorough investigation of the facts and circumstances surrounding your charges. We will explore and pursue all possible defenses available to you. By building a solid defense, you increase your chances of having these serious charges reduced or even dropped. 

The state will begin to build its homicide case against you immediately. You shouldn’t hesitate to begin your defense, either. The sooner you get started, the stronger your case can be. Give our Franklin County law office a call today to learn more.

Overview of Homicide in Columbus, OH 

Now, under Ohio state law, there are separate categories of murder and manslaughter, each with different penalties: 

Aggravated Murder

Aggravated murder, or first-degree murder, is the most serious form of murder and is defined in ORC 2903.01. It involves what is known as an “aggravating circumstance” which makes the act particularly egregious. One example is the purposeful killing of another person, including the illegal termination of a pregnancy, with “prior calculation and design.” This means that the action was premeditated. 

Another example involves purposefully causing death to another during the commission of certain crimes. These crimes include: 

  • Kidnapping
  • Rape
  • Arson
  • Robbery
  • Burglary
  • Trespass (where someone is likely to be present) 
  • Terrorism, and
  • Escape.

Note that aggravated murder would also apply in cases where death was caused during an attempt to commit any of these listed crimes. Other examples that would be considered aggravating circumstances include the purposeful killing of a:

  • Law enforcement officer while engaged in official duties
  • First responders – such as a firefighter or EMT
  • Member of the military, or
  • Child under 13.

Keep in mind that an aggravating circumstance includes killing another person while you are in prison for a felony or if you have escaped custody. 

Penalty: In all murder cases, the penalty you may face depends largely on the specific charge and the surrounding circumstances. Aggravated murder is punished most severely, and you could receive either the death penalty or life imprisonment, plus a $25,000 fine. 


Murder, as explained in ORC 2903.02,  also includes a person purposefully causing death to another. However, it involves none of the aggravating circumstances listed above. Further, causing death while committing or attempting to commit a first-degree or second-degree felony is considered murder. Here, there was no intent to kill, and instead, the death occurred as a result of the felonious act.

For example, it is considered a second-degree felony to manufacture explosives. If you committed this crime and someone was accidentally killed in the process, you could be charged with murder. 

Penalty: Murder, on the other hand, can lead to between 15 years and life behind bars, plus a $15,000 fine. 

Voluntary Manslaughter

In cases where you cause death to another during a fit of rage or under the influence of sudden passion, you could be charged with voluntary manslaughter. Cases involving death due to sexual motivation would also fall under this category. 

Typically, these crimes involve situations where the victim provoked the aggressor in some way. An example would be if someone called you derogatory names and then started to push you. If you responded by brutally attacking the person and he or she died as a result, you could face voluntary manslaughter charges pursuant to ORC 2903.03.

It can be helpful to think of voluntary manslaughter as a form of “imperfect” self-defense. In other words, you were provoked and then responded with a disproportionate amount of force under the circumstances that ultimately caused someone’s death.

Penalty: Voluntary manslaughter is a first-degree felony which, in Ohio, carries at least three, but no more than 10 years in prison.

Involuntary Manslaughter 

Involuntary manslaughter, under ORC 2903.04, refers to cases where death results during the commission or attempted commission of a felony or misdemeanor crime. Note that this criminal offense is also known as “criminally negligent homicide.” Keep in mind that involuntary manslaughter is not a purposeful killing, which would instead be considered aggravated murder. It also does not involve a first-degree or second-degree felony, which would constitute murder.  

Penalty: Now, the penalty for involuntary manslaughter depends on the underlying crime. First, if the offense occurred in connection with a felony, this is considered a first-degree felony and can result in a period of incarceration of between 3 and 11 years, plus fines up to $20,000. 

But, if the violation was in connection with a misdemeanor, it is considered a third-degree felony. This is punished by a prison term of between 9 months and 5 years, and fines up to $10,000.  

Reckless and Negligent Homicide

If your behavior is outside the bounds of reasonable conduct and someone dies as a result, you could be charged with reckless or negligent homicide. Bear in mind that negligent homicide includes the unreasonable use of a deadly weapon. An example would be an alcohol-related hunting accident.  

Penalty: Note that negligent homicide is deemed a first-degree misdemeanor and is punished by up to 6 months in jail. By contrast, reckless homicide is considered a third-degree felony with a potential sentence of between 9 months and 5 years behind bars, plus fines up to $10,000. 

Vehicular Homicide

When a vehicle causes the death of a person, the operator could be charged with vehicular homicide under ORC 2903.06. The definition of vehicle is broad and includes cars, trucks, motorcycles, snowmobiles, and watercraft or aircraft.

Now, you could be charged with vehicular homicide if you were operating your vehicle negligently. Examples would be if you ran a red light or sped through a construction zone. 

However, keep in mind that the act is deemed aggravated vehicular homicide if one of the following circumstances is present:

  • The driver was impaired by drugs or alcohol
  • The driving was deemed reckless – such as going 50 miles over the speed limit, or
  • The driving was reckless and occurred in a construction zone.

As you might imagine, aggravated vehicular homicide is a more serious charge in Ohio with increased penalties. 

Penalty: Finally, vehicular manslaughter is classified and punished anywhere from a first-degree misdemeanor and 6 months in jail, all the way up to a first-degree felony and up to 11 years in prison. The penalty depends on whether:

  • Your actions were negligent or reckless
  • You drove with a suspended license
  • You had any prior convictions of vehicular assault or manslaughter 

Note that license suspension is typically part of the punishment you will receive for any vehicular manslaughter offense. 

Defending Against Homicide Charges in Columbus

All criminal charges require that the prosecution prove that you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. This a high standard and means that every component or “element” of the crime must be established. 

For example, if you lacked the necessary criminal intent to commit murder, you could not be convicted of this crime. This might be the case if the death resulted from some accident you were involved in. But, note that this defense does not apply to negligent homicide.  


Self-defense is also a legal defense that you can raise. However, here you must prove that the amount of force you used to defend yourself was reasonable. In cases where death resulted from your actions, you must have feared that you were in serious danger. But, note that it is assumed that your response was reasonable if the person unlawfully entered your home or vehicle.

Constitutional Defenses

There are also constitutional defenses that may apply to your case. These typically involve an illegal search conducted by law enforcement or an officer’s failure to read you your Miranda rights before obtaining a confession. These are very fact-sensitive and complicated matters, so it’s important to have an experienced attorney in Columbus involved in your case to make sure that you raise all possible defenses. 

Contact Our Columbus Homicide Attorney Today for a Free Initial Consultation

As you can see, homicide cases are serious and the stakes are very high. For this reason, you shouldn’t wait until you are arrested to obtain legal counsel. Even if you are worried about being investigated, it is never too early to reach out for legal advice. 

Contact our Columbus criminal defense lawyer today to schedule a time to discuss your homicide charges and possible defense strategies. Our caring team is always here to take you call, so reach out today.