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Second degree intentional homicide cases are serious.

While it’s not first degree intentional homicide, the second-degree version of the offense is incredibly serious.  And while a conviction for this offense will not result in a mandatory lifetime sentence, 60 years isn’t much better.  Certainly for most of us 60 years is the same as a lifetime.

At Meyer Van Severen, S.C. our criminal defense attorneys are specialists.  The only legal work we do is on criminal cases.  We don’t draft contracts.  We certainly don’t do divorces.  Our focus is on honing our ability to achieve the very best results for individuals criminally charged.

Our criminal defense lawyers regularly appear in court.  We regularly go to trial.  And we certainly regularly file motions.  Such dedicated criminal defense practice ensures clients charged with second degree intentional homicide get the best results.  To speak with one of our murder defense attorneys, call us at (414) 270-0202.


What is second degree intentional homicide?

Second degree intentional homicide is prohibited in section 940.05 of the Wisconsin Statutes.  It’s analogous to the prior offense of manslaughter.  Wis. Stat. sec. 940.05 says:

“Whoever causes the death of another human being with intent to kill that person is guilty of a Class B felony if: [the state concedes or cannot disprove a mitigating circumstance in a first degree intentional homicide case].

Like all other criminal offenses, second degree intentional homicide has certain elements that must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

What are the elements of this offense?

All crimes have elements, or parts, that the government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt.

Before a jury or court finds a defendant guilty of a criminal offense, the prosecution must present evidence that is credible and sufficient to prove each element. The component parts that make up any particular crime vary depending on the crime.  Wisconsin Criminal Jury Instruction 1050 provides the two jury instructions for this offense:

  • The defendant caused the death of the victim.  (“Cause” means the defendant’s act was a substantial factor in producing the death.)
  • The defendant acted with intent to kill the victim. (“Intent to kill” means the defendant had the mental purpose to take the life of another human being, or was aware that his conduct was practically certain to cause the death of another human being.)

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What are mitigating circumstances?

Mitigating circumstances reduce a first degree case to a second degree case.  They certainly don’t excuse the underlying criminal conduct.  But the legislature determined that mercy and fairness warrant the reduction in criminal liability.  Mitigating circumstances for a first-degree intentional homicide case include:

  • Adequate provocation.  This focuses on the fact that the defendant caused the victim’s death in circumstances where the defendant was unable to continue exercising proper self-control.  The provocation must be enough to compel uncontrollable feelings.  For example, adequate provocation may focus on the defendant walking in on his wife (the victim) actively cheating on him.
  • Unnecessary defensive force.  This simply means the defendant went too far defending himself.  An example of this could be that the victim punched the defendant, and the defendant responded by shooting the victim.
  • Prevention of a felony.  This focuses on the defendant using too much force against a victim that is committing a felony.
  • Coercion.  Coercion focuses on another actor threatening, or compelling the defendant to commit the murder.

Transferred intent and second degree intentional homicide:

You’ll notice that the definition of the crime only requires the defendant intent to kill another human being.  The intent

Section 940.05(2) makes it clear that transferred intent is allowed to prove a second degree intentional homicide case.  That section says “… it is sufficient to allege and prove that the defendant caused the death of another human being with intent to kill that person or another.”

Second degree intentional homicide cases can also be charged involving an unborn child.  The transferred intent previously discussed changes a bit.  It is sufficient for the state to allege and prove that the defendant caused the death of the unborn child with intent to kill the child, the mother, or another human.  The same mitigating circumstance argument applies to second degree intentional murder cases involving unborn children.

Finally, the mitigating circumstances themselves are not defenses to prosecution for second degree intentional homicide.  For example, the defendant cannot argue he was coerced into committing second degree intentional homicide.  He can’t argue he was adequately provoked, that he used unnecessary defensive force, or he was trying to prevent a felony, either.  Those mitigating circumstances only reduce a first degree intentional homicide down to the second degree intentional homicide level.


Murder victim under sheet.
Second degree intentional homicide carries a 60 year penalty. Contact Meyer Van Severen at (414) 270-0202 to start fighting your case.

What if I confessed to second degree intentional homicide?

Law enforcement officers look for confessions in every case they investigate.  If the defendant admits that he committed the offense, it eliminates a lot of work.  For example, upon a confession, law enforcement doesn’t continue looking for a suspect.  They don’t need to search DNA or fingerprint databases for matches.  Instead, they simply compare your information to that of the suspect.

But a confession doesn’t mean you have no hope.  A skilled criminal defense attorney may find a way to challenge the statements law enforcement is using against you.  For example, if police didn’t properly administer Miranda warnings, your subsequent statement could be suppressed.  In other cases, a forced waiver of your Miranda warnings could lead to equally positive and helpful results.

Finally, perhaps you provided the cops a false confession.  False confessions are important things to consider, especially in the Making a Murderer age.  Sometimes individuals admit to things they didn’t do.  And sometimes upon hiring an expert, we can challenge those confessions.

While it might be easy to assume your case is done upon a confession, the opposite is true.  A confession case is the kind of case you want a criminal defense specialist to deal with.

Contact Meyer Van Severen, S.C. for murder, homicide, and manslaughter defense.

The criminal defense attorneys at Meyer Van Severen, S.C. regularly defense second degree intentional homicide cases.  If you’re facing criminal charges for this, or any kind of manslaughter, murder, or homicide charge, call us.  Our criminal defense attorneys focus 100% of their time working on criminal cases.  We don’t handle family law cases or business cases or anything that doesn’t help us better defend criminal cases.

Call one of our defense attorneys at (414) 270-0202.  If you’re looking for a criminal defense attorney near you, we can help.