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First Degree Murder vs. Second Degree Murder

Many people do not realize that murder rates have been going down over the decades. In fact, murder rates for the past decade or so have been about half of what they were back in 1990!

At the same time, any rate of murder is unfortunate. Many people do not know the difference between first-degree murder and second-degree murder. However, when looking for a criminal defense attorney for a murder charge, it is essential to learn some of the particulars of the legal system.

So what exactly is the difference between these kinds of murder? Read on to learn all about the most important things to understand about the different degrees of murder!

What Is First-Degree Murder?

The first thing to understand is that the smaller the number in the degree of murder, the more serious the charge.

In other words, murder in the first degree is worse than murder in the second degree. And murder in the second degree is worse than manslaughter in terms of sentencing.

So what is the first-degree murder definition? What makes first-degree murder worse than the other types of murder?

There are two kinds of first-degree murder. The first kind is defined by the killing being intentional and premeditated. The other kind of first-degree murder is felony murder.

Felony murder is when someone kills someone while committing a violent felony. For example, someone might rob a store. They might not have any intention to murder somebody. That would be second degree murder if no intent is present during a robbery.

In most cases, if you do not intend to kill someone, it is not first-degree murder. However, if you are accused of committing a certain felony offenses, killing someone while doing so counts as a first-degree murder if there is intent to kill.

Since first-degree murder is considered worse than the other kinds of murder, it comes with a greater sentence, which is the death penalty. Both first and second degree murder carry a life-sentence in prison. Only first degree murder carries the possibility of receiving the death penalty if convicted.

In some cases, people can even receive a death sentence if the jury decides on it. Even if that does not happen, a first-degree murder charge will generally result in life in prison without the benefit of parole.

What Is Second-Degree Murder?

If first-degree murder is premeditated and intentional, then what is second-degree murder, and why is it less serious? Second-degree murder is any murder done with the intent to kill or if they are committing a serious enumerated crime without the intent to kill, yet someone dies. For instance, if the defendant is pulling an armed robbery and ends up shooting and killing someone, he could get convicted of second degree murder if he did not go into the crime with intent to kill.

For example, someone might become angry on the spot and try to kill someone. If that person dies, then this could be a second-degree murder or manslaughter situation.

This is considered less serious because many people who might have thoughts of killing someone in advance will often calm down across time. If someone makes a plan to murder someone and then is still willing to do so hours or days, or weeks later, then that suggests that they are more likely to engage in violence in the future.

On the other hand, someone who loses themselves in the heat of the moment and kills someone may be less likely to commit violence in general. On top of that, there are sometimes extenuating circumstances that make a second-degree murder not excusable but somewhat more understandable.

Sometimes people become angry for legitimate reasons, even if their response to that anger is still unjustifiable. If the defendant had time for his blood to cool, then it could be a second degree murder as opposed to manslaughter.

There is no real possibility of a death sentence for second-degree murder. However, second-degree murder will land someone in prison for life without parole.

How to Find a Quality Criminal Defense Attorney for a Murder Charge

When you are facing a murder charge, the stakes may be higher than they ever have been in your life. In such a circumstance, it is essential that you find the right legal representation to help you manage the situation.

This is even more important when you realize how complicated the legal system can be. But how can you make sure that you find the right criminal defense lawyer in Louisiana to help you?

It is important to find a criminal defense attorney with plenty of experience. The more cases like yours they have handled, the more expertise they have to help you with.

You should also ask potential criminal defense attorneys about their track record of success. After all, a lot of experience may not be a good thing if they have won very few cases for their clients. It can also help to look at online ratings and reviews of criminal defense attorneys you are considering.

Understand the Difference Between First-Degree Murder and Second-Degree Murder

When you are dealing with a murder charge, it is important to become somewhat knowledgeable about the legal system. Understanding the difference between first-degree murder and second-degree murder is only the beginning. The more you know about the legal process, and the better the criminal defense attorney you have to help you, the more likely your case will resolve well.

To learn more about how to manage a murder charge, reach out and get in touch with us here!


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Louisiana criminal lawyers and DWI attorneys at the Barkemeyer Law Firm providing legal defense services for clients in Baton Rouge, Ascension, Livingston, Tangipahoa, Port Allen, Alexandria, New Orleans, Lafayette, Metairie, Kenner, Gretna, Hahnville, Chalmette, Slidell, St. Tammany, St. Charles, St. John, St. Bernard, Mandeville, Covington, Shreveport, Bossier, Jefferson, and all of Louisiana.

DISCLAIMER: The information on this website is not formal legal advice nor does it create an attorney-client relationship.

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