Murder is the unlawful killing of a person. Most crimes have a set sentence (or penalty) which is the same for everyone convicted. But some crimes are different. For some crimes, the verdict is different depending on how much worse a person's conduct was. Murder is one of those crimes.


The most severe type of criminal homicide is murder. Murder is generally broken down into two sub-categories: first-degree and second-degree murder, but there exist further sub-categories to each.

First Degree Murder is the most severe type of murder. All other crimes are committed out of passion or emotion. All murders are punishable by death in this state.

First-Degree murder is a charge reserved for the most severe crimes of homicide. The offense is defined by the defendant's premeditation (planning) and disdain for human life, usually accompanied by a specific intent (hatred).

These cases usually involve alarming and heinous crimes, and punishments for these crimes tend to reflect the seriousness and brutality of their nature.

Murder in the Second Degree

Second-Degree Murder is classified as a crime of passion. It is when undisguised malice is deliberate, but the actual murder is unplanned. What characterizes this type of murder is the presence of sympathy or pity, which is often the result of a sudden quarrel or separation. A typical example of second-degree murder is when a husband kills his wife in a jealous rage as he catches her and her lover in bed together.

Some states consider grossly wanton and reckless behavior that results in the manslaughter of another second-degree. This is applicable if actions were so wanton and irresponsible that the death of another person was almost assured.

Second-degree murder is grave, and frequently, in the most severe cases (such as when the victim is killed during the commission of another felony), the defendant could face life in prison. However, the death sentence is not an option in these cases.

Manslaughter, or Culpable Homicide, is an unlawful killing in which the person at fault did not intend the victim's death or had diminished responsibility through a diminished capacity or duress.

Manslaughter charges are based on the degree of the recklessness of the defendant's actions. The crime is designated when someone is killed recklessly.

Sentences for those convicted of manslaughter vary widely depending on state laws and the circumstances surrounding the event. Usually, those convicted of manslaughter receive lighter sentences than those convicted of second-degree murder.

Justifiable homicide

Justifiable homicide is not murder under any circumstances. It is considered to be an act of self-defense or the protection of others. In cases of justified homicide (also known as excusable homicide, which refers to the homicide that was committed but that does not cause death), the person who committed the killing is not charged with any criminal violations.

Other Homicides

Other, less common forms of homicide crimes include felony murder. In a felony murder, a person dies while the defendant commits another crime. In this case, they may have been entirely unaware that they were doing something illegal.

There are significant, intimidating roadblocks when you drive the 'mean streets of the legal process.

The reason is primarily due to the various State laws, which tend to differ in many states. These laws tend to differ from the highest court to the small individual court. This diverse nature is partly due to the States' evolving processes and laws, but you only have to look at the differences in States' laws to understand this point.