Murder is the most serious crime of all. The unlawful killing of another person, whether intentional or not, is abhorred and despised in most societies. However, not all murders are created the same. Depending on the circumstances involved, a murder may be classified as first, second or third degree.
First and second degree murders
First degree murder
First degree murder is committed when someone has hatched a plan to kill a person and succeeded in doing so. In a lot of countries, someone who has committed murder while in the commission of a violent crime such as rape or robbery, may also be charged with first degree murder even if the killing was not planned or premeditated.
What sets it apart
Penalties for this type of murder are typically severe and harsh. What sets first degree murder apart from other degrees of murder is that there was premeditation involved prior to the killing. This means that the murderer did not act out of haste or rage but rather methodically planned and carried out the killing. In many cultures around the world, planning the death of a fellow human being is thought of as being heinous and despicable.
What does it include? Plans vary from crude, unsophisticated schemes to complex and gruesome that even comes with an escape plan. Hired killings are also classified as first degree murder. In addition, the killing of a peace officer, whether it was premeditated or not, may result in a first degree murder charge. Second degree murder Second degree murder involves killing a person without premeditation. The person involved in the homicide might or might not have malice or ill will when he committed the killing. If a person was killed due to another person’s dangerous behaviour or was killed in the “heat of passion”, the accused may be charged with second degree murder by the prosecuting counsel.
Example One example of a case that may fall under second degree murder is a person who got killed by someone who recklessly fired a gun in a public place. Another example is an individual who out of rage or jealousy, killed his/her spouse after he/she caught him/her in the act of committing infidelity. Individuals who would be found guilty of second degree murder, would at most, typically get a long or lifetime sentence.
Third degree murder
Third degree is also referred to as involuntary manslaughter and involves the killing of person without intent. The usual cause of this degree of murder is negligence and extreme reckless behaviour. Cases that might be classified as third degree murder are the death of a person due to the reckless use of vehicles, animals, or medicine.