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Degrees Of Murders: What is 1st, 2nd, And 3rd Degree Murders (February 2024)

Degrees Of Murders

There are certain classifications of murder which are known as a first-degree, second degree and third-degree murder. All these murders are not the same in jurisdictions. There are several factors to determine a degree of a murder case.

In this article, you will know how the degree of murders is determined, what are the requirements for those types of murders and what penalties fall under these types of murder cases.

First Degree Murder

First-degree murder is the most severe form of murder. First-degree murder is committed with proper planning. This type of murder is committed with the intent of harming the same people. Specific types of unlawful killing are also included in first-degree murder.

What Are Elements of First-Degree Murder

As per the criminal law state, the first degree of an order must have the following three elements, such as:

Premeditation: First-degree murders are classified as premeditated murders. The criminal does this as purposefully and with proper planning. In the case of first-degree murders, the criminal can purchase a weapon or can wait for the right time to attack the victim.

Intention: First-degree murders are generally performed with exact criminal intent. This defines that the criminal is intended to participate in this murder or other criminal act such as felony, kidnapping, etc.

Malice Aforethought: Examples Of First-Degree Murder

Generally, there are three types of first-degree murders, such as:

Premeditated Murder: In the case of premeditated murder, the murderer plans the murder carefully and commits it with the full intention of causing harm to the victim. First-degree murder is done willfully and the murderer had a strong desire to end the life of the victim.

Felony Murder: Felony Murder refers to a specific type of murder where a person is killed during another felony commission. Some of that felonies include robbery, rape, kidnapping and arson.

Murder With Specified Meaning: In this type of murder, the murderer kills a person using any heinous method. Examples of this type of murder include drive-by-shooting, bomb blasts, etc.

What Are The Penalties For Second Degree Murder

First-degree murder is one of those serious types of murder that follows severe punishments. Sometimes, the murderer can be charged with the death penalty or life imprisonment.

The defendant will be given less punishment in case they have a mental illness, are under duress, etc. The defendant can get the harshest sentences if they perform the murder with any additional crime or has a record of murder in past.

Second Degree Murder

The defendant acts in second-degree murder without premeditation. In that case, the murderer kills a person intentionally, knowing that he will be injured bodily. This type of murder is not carried out with proper planning, with no intention to kill.

Examples of Second Degree Murder

Without premeditation: As an example, when a person is driving his car in a city and he has a legal gun that he keeps with him. In that case, when the other driver cuts him off and he takes out the gun and kills the person. In that case, this shooting case will be convicted under second-degree murder as he had no proper planning to kill him but harms to the driver, knowing he will be bodily injured.

Knowing Will Cause Serious Injuries: If a person shoots another person in his leg but the other person gets died, then it will be convicted as second-degree murder. As the person did not want to kill the other person, that’s why he shot himself in the leg.

Extreme Indifference To Human Life: This is another main type of second-degree murder. In this case, the victim dies due to the defendant’s extreme Indifference to human life.

Elements Of Second Degree Murder

Second-degree murder should have the following elements such as:

  • Without premeditation: Second-degree murder lacks proper planning. In that case, the murderer kills the person with no intent at the same time.
  • Intent To Bodily Harm: Second-degree murder is not predominated, but the defendant had the intention of injuring the victim.

What Are The Penalties For Second Degree Murder

The penalties for second-degree murder provide 10 years or 25 years of imprisonment. The imprisonment time varies as per the severity of the murder. However, the penalty for second-degree murder depends on some aggravating and mitigating factors. As an example, having a clean criminal record can lessen the penalty, whereas high levels of brutality can make the penalty more ferocious.

Weapons That Are Most Commonly Used for HomicidesImage Source: criminalattorneycolumbus.com

Third-Degree murder

Third-degree murder refers to an unintentional killing that is similar to manslaughter. In this case, the murderer attacks a person without thinking about the result, and the victim gets died. As an example, when two friends were having fun with each other and they suddenly find a gun and accidentally kill another person leading to his death.

What Are The Differences Between First, Second, And Third-Degree Murder

The Difference In Planning:

First-degree murder is generally carried out with proper planning, but second-degree murder involves a scene without proper planning. Third-degree murder doesn’t involve any proper planning of killing someone or harming someone.

Intent Of Killing:

Another most important difference between 1st, 2nd, and 3rd-degree murder is the evidence of ‘malice’ or intent for killing. For first-degree murder, it needs to be proven that there was a ‘malice afterthought’ when committing the murder.

For second-degree murder, it has to be proven that the person has heated the victim, knowing he will be bodily injured. For third-degree murder, there will be no intention of causing harm to another person.

The Difference In Punishment:

There are different penalties for each conviction. For first-degree murder, the murderer will be given with punishment of lifelong imprisonment or sentenced to death. For second-degree murder, the punishment is lesser than the first one. But in the third degree, judgment depends on several factors, and according to that, the judges decide the punishment.

Statistic: Total number of homicides in the United States in 2021, by state | Statista
Find more statistics at Statista

Statistic: Ranking of the most dangerous cities in the world in 2022, by murder rate per 100,000 inhabitants | Statista
Find more statistics at Statista

Conclusion

In case anyone in your family is charged with murder cases, you should seek professional help who has substantial experience and understand your right to set up a defense for you. But make sure you hire an experienced person.

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