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What is a First Degree Murder?

A first-degree murder constitutes one of the most heinous crimes an individual can commit, with the harshest penalties available in the American legal system.

First-degree murder is an intentional murder of another individual when the crime is committed with

  • Intent to kill
  • Premeditation and deliberation
  • With malice of afterthought

Felony murder is also classified as first-degree murder when commissioned during a dangerous crime, but felony murder does not require intent.

Several states in the United States do not classify murder according to degrees. In these states, the Moral Penal Code classifies any murder with provable intent and purpose to murder as the equivalent of first-degree murder.

In these states, the highest degree of murder is classified as capital murder, punishable, and carries a penalty of life imprisonment.

The meaning of capital murder differs from state to state.

In addition, the felony-murder rule applies in several states. This declares that any death, whether accidental or not, can be levied as first-degree murder as long as the felony is commissioned during

  • Arson
  • Kidnapping
  • Rape
  • Burglary
First Degree Murder

                                     Elements of a First Degree Murder

There are three main components of murder that must be present in order for the crime to qualify as first
degree murder:

  • Deliberation
  • Willfulness
  • Premeditation
  • An entirely optional element, the malice of afterthought, differs depending on the penal codes of the state.

The intent or willfulness is mandatory for first-degree murder, and the intent in question extends further than the intended victim in the case.

If the wrong person is killed, regardless of who was intended to be killed, a first degree still qualifies.

If an innocent bystander is killed rather than the intended victim, the presence of intent still qualifies it as the first degree of murder.

Purely accidental deaths, however, do not qualify.

The act of murder being committed with a depraved indifference might also sufficient to qualify for first-degree murder. The conscious intent to cause bodily harm, along with the offender being under a depraved state of mind is depraved indifference. The offender must be proven to possess no concern for the lives of others, and thus qualifies as necessary malice in the event of a conviction.

What is a First Degree Murder

Premeditation and Deliberation

The necessary time to have conscious intent to commit a murder is what is meant by premeditation.

The killing must occur after the premeditation, with too short a duration between the time of the murder and deliberation failing to qualify.

If it is provable the offender laid in wait before assaulting or ambushing the victim, premeditation and deliberation apply.

Premeditation has special rules in instances where the killing of a child with unreasonable force is present.

The murder that occurs after an established pattern of domestic abuse is present.

Any murder of a law enforcement officer is present.

And murder accompanying the commission of another felony or crime such as rape, arson, robbery, poisoning, imprisonment or torture of the victim are present.

Punishments for a First Degree Murder

Many states have a split sentencing structure for first-degree murder.

The first tier of punishment extends to a range of years up to life imprisonment as the penalty. The second tier of punishment extends to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole or the death penalty.

Split sentencing is determined by the number of aggravating factors provable in the crime.

Aggravating factors include:

  • The previous convictions that the offender possesses.
  • Whether a judge, prosecutor, witness or juror was murdered to prevent the aforementioned from fulfilling their duties.
  • Whether the murder involved torture.
  • Whether explosive materials such as bombs were present in the crime.
  • Whether the offender in question is an active gang member and the murder was a part of gang-related violence.

First Degree Murder Charge Search

First-degree murder is a part of people's criminal record, so it will appear in public records. Nowadays, you can find out if someone has been arrested or charged with first-degree murder with an online public records' search directory, like GoLookUp.

To perform the search, you need to provide the first name and the last name of the person in question. Once the search engine has this information, it will scan public records, and provide you with a report about the person in question. The detailed report will include all the public records' data about the person that you are searching for, including whether they were charged/arrested/convicted of first-degree murder.

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Search for anyone in the United States! 100% Confidential! Updated on August 17, 2022
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