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Murder Definition

Murder is defined as the malicious and unlawful killing of a human being. Murder must involve malice aforethought, which is a conscious intent to cause death or bodily harm. The Model Penal Code outlines different murder charges including first-degree and second-degree murder.

How Many Different Degrees of Murder Are There?

Murder charges are usually divided into two categories consisting of first-degree murder and second-degree murder.

First-Degree Murder

First-degree murder occurs when the unlawful killing was premeditated. First-degree murder can also occur as a felony murder. A felony murder is a killing that is committed while the criminal is committing another felony such as a burglary, even if the killing was accidental.

Second-Degree Murder

Second-degree murder is an unplanned, yet unlawful killing. The best example of second-degree murder is an individual who spontaneously kills their spouse right after discovering that they were unfaithful. Second-degree murder, at times, can also be committed through a criminal negligence charge. This occurs when the criminal knew that their reckless behavior would most likely result in killing of some form.

What Is Attempted Murder?

There is even a charge for a murder that was attempted and was not ultimately successful. The logic behind an attempted murder charge is that the criminal had the intent to kill another and due to varying factors was not successful. Attempted murder can be divided into first-degree and second-degree categories depending on whether the attempted murder involves planned or felony attempted murder. A second-degree attempted murder would be an unplanned act.

What Is the Difference Between Serial Killers & Mass Murderers?

A serial killer is a murderer that has killed three or more people in a period that is over one month. Serial killers are usually psychologically imbalanced in some way and have motives for their crimes related to financial gain, thrill-seeking, and anger.

A mass murderer is different from serial killing in that it happens over a shorter period of time in the same geographical area. Usually, a mass murderer kills three or more people in a single incident.

What Are Stand Your Ground Laws?

Many states in the United States have passed Stand Your Ground laws. The idea behind these laws is to enable residents to lawfully kill and use deadly force if their personal safety while in their home is in danger. Stand Your Ground Laws mean that there is “no duty to retreat” since the person should not have to retreat from a place, they legally have the right to be.

What Are the Penalties for Murder Offenses?

Penalties for murder offenses are going to vary on many factors related to the facts of the case and where the murder occurred. Usually, a conviction of first-degree murder is going to have a much harsher sentence than second-degree murder. Some states indicate that a murder conviction can only result in life in prison without parole or the death penalty while others mandate a minimum of 20 to 25 years in prison for murder charges.

The severity of the punishment for murder offenses depends on these aggravating factors:

  • The reason for the murder: The courts consider whether it was a contract killing or what factors led to the murder.
  • The victim: If the victim were a political official or child, there would be harsher punishments.
  • How the murder was committed: Brutal murders will always be sentenced with harsher punishments.

Murder is one of the most serious charges in the criminal code. It is important to know what each state’s different murder statutes are in order to have a realistic expectation of what the sentences will be. Murder is a felony and one of the most severe felony charges that can be given to a defendant. Each defendant that is facing murder charges should work with an attorney given the life-altering sentences that courts decide for those convicted of any form of a murder charge.

Murder Glossary Definition

Murder is traditionally defined as the malicious and unlawful killing of a human being. There are several different degrees of murder that will make the punishments vary depending on the state where the murder occurred. In 2016, the FBI reported that the number of nationwide murders was 17,250, which was an 8.6% increase from the 2015 estimate.