First Degree Murder and Second Degree Murder Overview
Second-degree murder is typically characterized by a lack of premeditation, the aim to do only bodily injury, and a severe disregard for human life. The precise legal definition of this offense varies by jurisdiction. Some states may not use the word “second-degree murder,” but they likely still divide murder into two degrees and inflict less punishments for the lesser offense.
Read on to discover the many types of killings that are typically categorized as second-degree murder, along with examples of each form of killing.
Without Premeditation Intentional Murders
These kind of murders require no strategy on the side of the perpetrator. At the time of the murder, the killer intended to kill the victim, whereas before to the murder, the perpetrator had no intention to commit murder.
For instance, Adam and Bill are neighbors, and they’ve been arguing about the fence separating their houses recently. Adam pays Bill a visit to discuss the issue, and while there, he suddenly grabs the shotgun hanging above the fireplace and fatally shoots Bill.
Adam did not intend to murder Bill when he went to Bill’s residence on that day, so there was no premeditation. Adam had every intention of murdering Bill at the time he squeezed the trigger. Prosecutors would likely prosecute him with second-degree murder under these conditions.
If, on the other hand, Adam murders Bill during a sudden argument that was provoked, he would likely be charged with manslaughter. The premise is that if Adam is motivated by “hot of passion,” the moral responsibility is less.
Intent to Inflict Only Serious Physical Harm
The second circumstance for second-degree murder is when the criminal wants to cause merely substantial bodily damage but is aware that death may ensue from the conduct. Adam grabs a shovel and whacks Bill in the head with all of his power instead of shooting him in the situation described above. Adam did not plan to murder Bill when he struck him with the shovel, but he was aware that a blow to the head carried a high risk of death. Adam’s killing of Bill in this manner would be categorized as second-degree murder.
Extreme Callousness Towards Human Life
The third major type of second-degree murder happens when a victim dies due to the perpetrator’s excessive disregard for human life. Extreme indifference typically entails a complete disregard for the chance that an action would harm someone.
Consider, returning to Adam and Bill, that instead of bashing Bill over the head with a shovel, Adam pulls a rifle and fires wildly at a throng of neighbors who have gathered to watch Adam and Bill argue. Adam didn’t necessarily intend to kill anyone, but he also didn’t consider the harm he could inflict to those in the crowd. This is evidence of Adam’s terrible disregard for human life. If one of Adam’s bullets impacted and killed a member of the crowd, Adam has likely committed second-degree murder.
Some states additionally consider homicides that occur during the commission of another felony as second-degree murders, although other states classify such homicides as first-degree murders. It is also crucial to know that a person might be convicted of felony murder even if they did not kill somebody themselves.
For instance, if Adam and Bill enter a convenience store with the intention of robbing it at gunpoint (which is a felony), and Adam ends up shooting the store owner, a jury could find Bill (who did not shoot anyone) guilty of murder on the grounds that he was involved in the original felony when the killing occurred.
What If You Are Charged with Second-Degree Murder? Call a Lawyer
If you have been accused of any form of murder or other crime, hire a competent attorney immediately to safeguard your legal rights, assist you in establishing a defense, and preserve evidence that may be helpful to your case. Contact a local criminal defense attorney immediately to get started.
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*This information is not intended to be legal advice. Please contact Canterbury Law Group today to learn more about your personal legal needs.