An Explanation of First-Degree Murder: What These Charges Mean to the Accused

Published: 04th September 2009
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Most states look at the charge of murder in terms of degree: first-degree murder or second-degree murder. The charge of first-degree murder is the most severe and comes with the harshest penalties, which may include a sentence of life in prison or even the death penalty.

For most states with first-degree murder and second-degree murder statutes, a special circumstance is usually applied to the murder charge to make it a first-degree offense. For example, financial gain, the use of torture, a murder where rape is committed as well, kidnapping and murder committed to escape the law. When a special circumstance does not apply the murder is typically seen as second-degree murder, or may even be reduced to manslaughter.

When someone lies in wait in order to take the life of another, this is considered an intentional act of murder and will almost always come with a first-degree murder charge. Additionally, if someone pays another individual to take the life of another this too would likely come with a first-degree murder charge for the person who made the plans.

A first-degree murder charge can apply to someone who kills another during a physical confrontation, though murder was never intended. For example, a bar room brawl that results in a fatal head injury to one of the participants would usually bring a first-degree murder charge.

Mishandling firearms can often result in the death of another person, and if the circumstances could have easily been avoided, that level of recklessness can be charged as first-degree murder.

Finally, if a person is killed during the commission of, or flight from, a crime, all parties involved in the crime, and not just the killing, will face first-degree murder charges. If charged with first-degree murder or if a loved one is a murder victim, it is imperative to seek legal counsel to ensure you legal rights are represented.

If you are accused of murder, experienced criminal defense lawyers can help. Individuals facing felony or misdemeanor charges should seek legal representation from skilled criminal lawyers as soon as possible.

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