What is murder in the first degree?
Accusing someone of murder in the first degree, otherwise known as capital murder, is the most serious type of felony crime the state can possibly charge you with. A first-degree murder means that someone died as the result of a homicide, which the state believes was not accidental.
What separates first-degree murder from other charges is that first-degree murder includes an allegation that the crime was committed with premeditation, meaning there was a plan and you executed it. The crime also must be willful, so that the murder was committed after a certain degree of planning.
The period of premeditation does not have to be extensive to be considered first-degree murder. The state just has to prove that the accused thought about the murder beforehand, even if it occurred over a very brief period of time.
A first-degree murder charge can also result if someone died while another felony crime was being committed. There are very specific felony charges than can also include first-degree murder charges, but the most important variable is whether or not somebody died while a crime was committed.
For example, if someone is charged with carjacking or grand theft, they can also be charged with first-degree murder if someone died during the theft, regardless of whether or not the murder was premeditated. A first-degree murder charge can also apply to a situation where a person intended to murder one person, but inadvertently took someone else’s life. Although that loss of life was not premeditated, first-degree murder charges still apply.
Other examples of felony charges that adhere to the felony murder rule are robbery, arson, rape, and kidnapping.
The most important thing to remember, above all else, are the consequences associated with first-degree murder charges. First-degree murder charges are arguably the most serious felony charges and can include consequences as serious as the death penalty.
While you can attempt to get the state to waive the charges, first-degree murder charges commonly result in lifetime prison sentences even if the death penalty is waived. Additionally, some states have different rules regarding which factors can contribute to evidence supporting whether or not a death is considered first-degree murder.
It's critical to have the benefit of competent counsel and representation who's handled these types of cases. Only a skilled and experienced attorney can not just defend the person accused, but also investigate them on the front end to really mitigate the potential exposure and prison sentence. The degree of the murder charge has a direct impact on the level of punishment or sentence length the accused may be facing, so it’s important to know not only what you’re charged with, but what supporting evidence exists that determines the degree of the charge.The team at Fischer Redavid Trial Lawyers is ready and willing to put in the time and effort necessary to do that in order to protect the freedom and future of the accused. Please contact us today to set up a consultation if you’re facing felony charges.