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Murders up sharply in major U.S. cities during the first quarter

New Jersey residents might be interested to learn that homicide numbers increased during the first quarter in roughly half of 63 police departments that report data to the Major Cities Chiefs Association. The reports showed sharp increases in around two dozen of the country's largest cities, including Chicago, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Dallas.

The FBI director told reporters that he was unclear about why the homicide numbers spiked during that period. He said he thinks it might be related to the so-called Ferguson effect. This is an effect that some people believe has caused police to react less aggressively and crime to increase as a result.

The executive director of the Major Cities Chiefs Association said that he disagrees with the FBI Director's opinion. Other law enforcement officials instead point to an increase in heroin addiction and gang members being able to easily get their hands on illegal guns. As the executive director points out, homicides nationwide are still at historic lows. He said that the data doesn't provide a good picture of nationwide numbers because it's only comprised of information from 63 of the biggest cities in the country.

Murder charges bring the potential for the most severe penalties for criminal offenses. People who are facing murder charges may want to get help as soon as possible after they have been charged. If a person believes that he or she is being investigated for murder, they may want to get help before any charges are actually filed. Doing so can help the person's criminal defense attorney to begin building a defense early in the process. An attorney may be better able to locate and interview witnesses within a close time period of when the alleged offense happened. This may help a lawyer be able to negotiate from a strong position.

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