Murder charges are sometimes downgraded in plea bargains
While no criminal charges should ever be taken lightly, a murder charge is one that must be taken very seriously. You can face a long term in prison, depending on what type of murder charge you are up against. There are specific differences in the criteria for murder charges. Knowing the ones for the charge you are facing might help you with the defense planning.
You can't begin to assemble your defense right before your court date. Instead, you need to get work as early in the case as possible so that you are able to truly focus on the salient facts of the case. This gives you time to consider the options you have and how they might impact you. It also gives you a chance to evaluate the case against you and to consider how you will respond to the allegations of the prosecutor.
Another consideration that you have in these cases is whether you want to try to plead guilty to a less serious charge. This point of a plea deal might work in your favor if you are able to get a lesser charge that might result in less time behind bars.
It might be tempting to think about what your decisions mean for you right now. The issue with this is that you need to think about your future. If you don't want to spend your life behind bars, you must think about what life will be like when you get out. Your conviction might be for a violent crime, but you may be able to have it downgraded to manslaughter instead of murder, which could work in your favor both during sentencing and upon your release.