What is the Law on Murder in Maryland and What are the Punishments for it?
Murder involves deliberately taking the life of a person. According to the law of Maryland, there are three different types of murder charges, viz. first-degree murder, second-degree murder, and manslaughter.
Murder in the First Degree
First-degree murder is the most serious homicide crime in Maryland. According to Section 2-201 of the 2010 Maryland Code Criminal Law, first-degree murder involves:
- Deliberate, premeditated, and willful killing of a person
- Murder committed by lying in wait for a person
- Murder committed by poisoning
- Murder committed while raping a person
- Murder committed while committing sodomy
- Felony murder (murder committed while committing other felonies like burglary, carjacking and first-degree arson).
- Murder committed while kidnapping a person
- Other sexual offenses in the first and second degrees
- Murder committed while escaping from correctional facilities
- Murder committed in relation to the violation of destructive devices
Punishment for Murder in the First Degree
Murder in the first degree is punished with life imprisonment without parole. Since the year 2013, Maryland abolished the death penalty and life in prison is the most serious punishment given to homicide crime.
Murder in the Second Degree
According to Section 2-204 of Article 1 of the 2010 Maryland Code Criminal Law, a second-degree murder encompasses many types of murders that do not satisfy the requirements of first-degree murder. For example, a murder is considered murder in the second degree if a person kills another person deliberately but without premeditation.
Punishment for Murder in the Second Degree
A person who committed a second-degree murder is guilty of a felony and is punished with imprisonment not exceeding 30 years.
Attempt to Commit Murder in the First Degree and Murder in the Second Degree
Attempt to commit a murder is dealt with separately under the law of Maryland. A person who is found to be guilty of attempting to commit a murder in the first degree is guilty of a felony. He is subject to imprisonment not exceeding the life-term. Similarly, a person who is found to be guilty of attempting to commit a murder in the second degree is guilty of a felony. He is subject to imprisonment for a period not exceeding 30 years.
Manslaughter in Maryland
Manslaughter is still not defined in the statues of Maryland and had retained its common law definition. According to the common law definition, a person is guilty of manslaughter when:
- He kills another person
- Without any deliberation (planning the act beforehand)
- With mitigating circumstances (being provoked by others, fighting with others, and having no intention to do physical harm)
A key exception to the rule of mitigating circumstances is that discovery of a spouse’s adultery is not considered to be a mitigating factor.
Punishment for Manslaughter in Maryland
According to Section 2-204, manslaughter is a felony under the law of Maryland.
- A person guilty of committing manslaughter is punishable with an imprisonment of up to 10 years.
- Imprisonment in a local correctional facility or a fine of $500 (or both).
Manslaughter by Vehicle or Vessel
A person is guilty of manslaughter by vehicle or vessel if he causes the death of a person by driving it in a grossly negligent manner. A vehicle includes a motor car, train, streetcar, and a locomotive. He should also have known the risks involved and simply failed to care for the safety of other persons traveling on the road.
Punishment for Manslaughter by Vehicle or Vessel
A person who is guilty of manslaughter by vehicle or vessel will be punished with imprisonment not exceeding ten years or a fine not exceeding $5,000 (or both).