The Difference between First and Second Degree Murder
The question of what’s first degree murder, what’s second degree murder, that’s something that people spend their entire careers learning how to apply the facts of the particular cases. It’s not a simple question. There is no straightforward answer to that.
I want to at least give you a sense of why though, so what I am going to do is read for you the first instruction that if your were a juror on a case where someone was accused of murder or manslaughter, this is the first instruction a judge would begin to read to you, and it goes like this:
Homicide is the killing of one human being by another. Murder and manslaughter are types of homicide. Manslaughter is a lesser offense to murder. A homicide can be lawful or unlawful. If a person kills with a legally valid excuse or justification, the killing is lawful, and he or she has not committed a crime.
If there is no legally valid excuse or justification, the killing is unlawful, and depending on the circumstances,the person is guilty of either murder or manslaughter. You must decide whether the killing in this case was unlawful, and if so, what specific crime was committed.
I will now instruct you in more detail on what is a legally permissible excuse or justification for homicide. I will also instruct you on the different types of murder and manslaughter.
Now, from there, the instructions go on for 102 pages just to cover the difference between first and second degree murder. That’s before you even get to the manslaughter set of instructions. So you can get a sense of how complicated this question is. How legally entrenched these issues are.
First Degree, Second Degree, Manslaughter
The short answer, not that there really is one, but the short answer is that murder, is an intentional killing.
First degree murder is when that that intentional murder was premeditated.
Second degree murder is when an intentional killing wasn’t premeditated or planned.
And manslaughter is when crimes or wrongful behavior results in someone’s death but they never intended to actually kill the person.
Contact a Criminal Defense Attorney Today
If this is a question you are looking up on the internet because you think it may be applicable to you in your life or a loved one, someone that you know that may be accused of unlawful killing of another human being, I assure you researching this question on the internet isn’t really going to give you a better understanding of what’s going on and how to approach it. You really need to speak with an attorney in a confidential setting right away.
If you are just looking this up on the internet, I hope this has been at least a little bit helpful to you in figuring out the question. But if not, if this is a real question for you, please pick up the phone, call for a free consultation. Do it today.