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What is the Law on murder in Delaware and what are the Punishments for it?

Murder or Homicide is one of the most heinous crimes committed by man, involving taking another person’s life. However, this death may or may not be accidental. Depending on the nature and purpose of the crime, Delaware law constitutes various forms of punishment, ranging from a decade in prison up to a lifetime, and in extreme cases, even death.

Punishment by a court of law in Delaware falls into three main categories: First-degree murder, second-degree murder, and third-degree murder, of which the former has the most serious repercussions.

Felony-Murder Rule

In Delaware, the felony-murder rule applies to any person who has been unintentionally responsible for someone’s death. By doing so, the state pushes the agenda that risky behavior on any individual’s part can be dangerous to others. The rule applies to cases when someone dies during or shortly after the individual’s careless actions.

Delaware Murder Law

First-Degree Murder: Class A Felony

First-degree murder can be acted out in a variety of ways, including-

  • Intentionally being responsible for someone’s death.
  • Causing the death of an individual while committing, or attempting to commit, another felony.
  • Provoking another person into taking their own life, either by stress or duress.
  • Intentionally or recklessly causing the death of an officer of the law.
  • Causing the death of another person by use of bombs or other destructive devices.
  • Intentionally killing someone in order to prevent oneself from being convicted of another crime.

Second-Degree Murder: Class A Felony

  • Second-degree murder in Delaware includes the following acts:
  • Recklessly causing the death of another individual in circumstances which exhibit a cruel indifference to human life.
  • Causing the death of a person when committing or trying to commit another felony.
Murder Law Delaware

Murder by Abuse and Neglect: Class A Felony

Causing the death of a child, either intentionally or recklessly, falls under abuse and neglect of the first degree. The acts include:

  • Abusing or neglecting a child. The person may also have a history of abuse and neglect of the child, leading to death.
  • A child is defined as someone below the age of 14, with a history of two or more incidents of abuse. The events should be sporadic, meaning they should not be constituted as a single event, e.g. an act of rage.

Punishments for Class A felonies:

Murder in Delaware usually falls under class A felonies. Causing the loss of life is an extremely inhumane act, and in Delaware, the punishments equal the crime.

  • If the culprit is less than 18 years of age, the murder of the first degree gets rewarded with imprisonment ranging from 25 years to a life sentence.
  • If the culprit is legally an adult, the punishment is usually life imprisonment, or in some cases, death.
Murder Law

Murder by Abuse or Neglect: Class B Felony

Causing the death of a child through criminal negligence makes a person guilty of murder as a Class B Felony. These acts include:

  • Abuse and neglect of a child. The person may also have previous patterns of abuse and negligence with the child.
  • The child in this section is anyone who is below the age of 14. Furthermore, there must be two or more previous encounters of criminal negligence with the child. The incident should not be the culmination of a single event.

Punishments for Class B felonies:

The minimum sentence for a person accused of a class B felony is 10 years. Depending on the severity of the death and the circumstances, the individual could face anything from 25 years to life imprisonment. However, class B felonies do not incur the death penalty.


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