Murder is the unlawful killing of another person and depending on the circumstances is classified as first, second, or third-degree murder.
What is First Degree Murder?
First-degree murder is when someone has intended or preformed actions that show that the intent was to take the life of another person. This is called premeditation and contrary to popular belief there does not need to be extensive planning on the part of the perpetrator. This is the most serious form of unlawful killing of another person and depending on circumstances the maximum sentence is the death penalty.
Another form of first-degree murder is felony murder, which is a criminal charge for committing or participating in a crime in which someone dies even if you do not harm anyone directly. An example of this is a robber kills someone during a robbery, their getaway driver can still be charged with felony murder.
What is Second Degree Murder?
The lesser form of murder is second-degree murder which is when someone inflicts fatal harm but is not in a state of premeditation. An example is a drunk driver killing someone in a car crash. Another would be one individual punching another person, causing the person struck to hit their head and die. In cases like these, the harm was intended (or at least foreseeable that their reckless conduct could likely cause death) but the person is still liable as the death of another was unjustified.
What is Manslaughter?
Below first and second-degree murder there is a category of unjustifiable homicide which is manslaughter.
The Two Types of Manslaughter
Voluntary manslaughter is causing the death of another under extreme provocation or lack of realization of what they have done.
The other type is involuntary manslaughter, which is when a person’s gross negligence and disregard for the safety of others leads to a person’s death. Generally involuntary manslaughter is charged less harshly than voluntary manslaughter and second-degree murder. Under certain circumstances, a person’s actions that would normally be involuntary manslaughter can become second-degree murder.
Involuntary manslaughter can become second-degree murder if the recklessness exhibited is proven to show that the perpetrator had a disregard for human life or, if the circumstances were extreme enough to merit a second-degree murder charge.
Contact a Homicide Attorney
If you or a loved one has been charged with murder or manslaughter, it is crucial to contact an experienced murder lawyer as soon as possible. Contact our attorneys today to schedule your free consultation!
Attorney Don Pumphrey, Jr. is a former prosecutor, former law enforcement officer, and a successful and experienced criminal defense attorney. Don has achieved over 100 not guilty verdicts at trial and over 2,000 dismissals.