March 1, 2023 | Criminal Law
In the state of Kentucky, taking someone’s life, whether intentionally or not, is a heinous crime that is punished severely by the law. The same goes for assisting someone in ending their life, also known as assisted suicide.
Additionally, it is a crime to cause someone, through force or duress, to commit suicide. If you’ve been charged with this crime, it’s important to speak with a lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your legal options.
Causing a Suicide in Kentucky – Legal Elements
To be convicted of causing a suicide, the prosecution must prove the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:
- The defendant knowingly;
- By force OR duress;
- Causes another person to attempt or commit suicide.
Force can include acts of violence, such as hitting, choking, or threatening someone with a weapon, to force them into taking their own life.
Psychological pressure can also be considered force or duress and can refer to emotional or psychological abuse, such as manipulation, blackmail, or threats. For example, if someone threatens to leak embarrassing photos that will get them fired and cause their family to fall apart unless they take their own life, this can be considered a form of psychological force or duress and can result in criminal charges.
Penalties for Causing a Suicide in Kentucky
In Kentucky, causing a suicide is a Class C felony. If you are convicted of causing someone to take their own life, you face a prison sentence of between five and ten years and a hefty fine of up to $10,000 (or twice what was gained from the crime, if anything).
Legal Defenses To Causing a Suicide
Several legal defenses may be available to those who are charged with causing suicide in Kentucky. Two common defenses include:
Wrongful accusation: If you have been wrongly accused of causing someone to take their own life, you have a defense against the charges. For example, if someone else was actually responsible for their death, you could argue that you have been wrongly accused.
Lack of coercion or pressure: If you did not coerce or pressure someone to take their own life, you have a defense against the charges. For example, if the person took their own life of their own accord, without any influence from you, you could argue that you did not cause their death.
Assisting a Suicide in Kentucky – Legal Elements
To be convicted of assisting a suicide, the prosecution must prove the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:
- The defendant;
- With the purpose of assisting someone in committing or attempting suicide;
- Knowingly AND intentionally;
- Provides the physical means by which someone attempts or commits suicide OR participates in a physical act by which someone attempts or commits suicide.
To be convicted, you must have actively participated in the act of suicide, either by assisting the person or by taking part in the act itself. For example, if someone helps another person take their own life by holding a gun for them or providing them with pills, they can be charged with participating in a physical act by which someone attempts or commits suicide.
Penalties For Assisting in a Suicide
If you are convicted of assisting someone to commit suicide by either providing them with the means to commit suicide or participating in the physical act by which they take or attempt to take their own life, you can be convicted of a Class D felony.
Possible penalties include between one and five years in jail and a fine of up to $10,000 (or double what was gained from the crime, if anything).
Legal Defense To Assisting Suicide
Several legal defenses may be available to those who are charged with assisting suicide in Kentucky. One of the most common defenses includes:
Lack of knowledge: If you did not know that the other person was going to take their own life, you may have a defense against the charges. For example, if you lent someone a gun for hunting and they used it to take their own life, you could argue that you did not know that they were going to use it for that purpose.
Contact a Lexington Criminal Defense Lawyer If You’ve Been Accused of Causing Someone’s Suicide
If you are facing charges of assisted suicide or causing someone to commit or attempt to commit suicide in Kentucky, it is crucial to seek legal representation as soon as possible. An experienced criminal defense attorney can help you understand the charges against you, the evidence against you, and the possible defenses that you can raise.
Suhre & Associates, LLC – Lexington
333 West Vine Street #212
Lexington, KY 40507