This week the Pennsylvania State Police announced the arrest of Travey Rollins for the murder of a woman whose body was found alongside Interstate 80 last week near Milton, Pennsylvania. Currently the State Police say he is charged with Homicide.

In Pennsylvania, Homicide is a general charge. At the time of arraignment, the prosecutor must pick a specific category of Homicide. In Pennsylvania the specific charges under the general category of homicide are First-Degree Murder, Second-Degree Murder, Third-Degree Murder, Voluntary Manslaughter, and Involuntary Manslaughter.

First-Degree murder in Pennsylvania requires a prosecutor to prove a person committed a premeditated, unlawful killing of a human being. The time required for the plan to kill can be brief unlike in TV shows where they show a person lotting to kill another for a long time. This charge carries automatic life in prison and possibly the death penalty if an aggravated factor is proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

Second-Degree murder, also called Felony Murder, is the act of killing another person during the commission of a felony such as robbery, arson, kidnapping, drug dealing. Second-Degree Murder applies to both the principle and any accomplice. The typical scenario given is the driver of a getaway car for a robbery can be found guilty of second-degree murder when one of his gang kills the bank guard and he/she does not. The penalty is life in jail.

Third-Degree murder is all other kinds of murder. It requires malice but not the intent to kill. It can be described as killing someone but not planning the killing and not done while in the process of committing another felony. The maximum penalty is 40 years.

Voluntary Manslaughter is defined as the unlawful killing of another person without legal justification, if at the time of the act, the individual is acting under a sudden and intense passion or under serious provocation. Legal justification is a defense. Self-defense is legal justification. The typical example of Voluntary Manslaughter is when a person catches their spouse with another person and they kill them or when someone dies in a fight where the person who did the killing was provoked by the deceased. The maximum penalty is 20 years.

Then there is Involuntary Manslaughter. This version of homicide is the only misdemeanor. All other versions of homicide are felonies. It is defined as the killing of another person that resulted from an unlawful act which was committed in a reckless or grossly negligent manner. The maximum punishment for this offense is five years in jail.

The facts that are known about this case are interesting but by no means does the prosecutor have an open and shut case. They must prove the intent of the person accused as well as the murder occurring in Union County and many other things. Murder cases are complex, full of emotion, and very evidence intensive. Having tried several murder cases across the state, I can say that just because someone is charged with homicide does not automatically mean they will get convicted and a life sentence.

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Manchester and Associates is a law firm dedicated to criminal defense that operates throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania since 1978.  5-star ratings prove what our firm is all about:  making sure that the best possible outcome for our clients is achieved. We use a teamwork approach in all of our major cases and one of our team members is a former District Attorney. This gives us an advantage of reviewing your case from both the prosecution and defense side. Our lawyers have handled multiple murder cases across the state of Pennsylvania. Let our collective trial experience earned over several decades aid your defense.

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