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First and Second-Degree Murder: A Breakdown

A murder charge is classified into one of three sections: first-degree, second-degree, and third-degree. The kind of charge the crime is depends greatly on the act itself as well as the conditions leading to it. Sentencing for each charge also varies.

First-degree Murder

A first-degree murder is an unlawful killing that is both willful and premeditated. This means that the murder was committed after planning. An example would be if a man found his wife in bed with his best friend, then several days later waited outside, and shot the friend when he arrived home. A murder is also considered in the first degree if any death results from committing a violent felony. In other words, if someone is killed whether intentionally or not, during arson, burglary, kidnapping, rape, or robbery.

Second-degree murder

When a murder is an intentional killing that is not premeditated, nor committed in a reasonable heat of passion, or a killing that is caused by dangerous conduct and the offender’s obvious lack of concern for human life it is found to be a murder in the second-degree. We can refer back to the previous example of a man finding his wife in bed with his best friend. If the man is at a stoplight the next day and sees his best friend driving the car next to him, then fires shots into the car missing the friend and killing the passenger in the car, he has committed second-degree murder.

Speak with an Appleton Criminal Defense Attorney

If you are facing murder charges, you need the support of an attorney who will fight to protect your rights. Contact the Appleton criminal defense attorneys of Hart Powell, S.C. at 888.656.7597 to discuss your case today.