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Understanding Second Degree Murder Charge

Understanding Second Degree Murder Charge

What is Second Degree Murder?
Second Degree Murder is classified as a type of murder, which is an act that results in the premeditated, deliberate, purposeful, and premature termination of the life of an individual at the hands of another individual. In most cases, the individual victim who suffered death was not the intended target of the individual suspected of the act of killing. Although the killing took place with malice aforethought, deliberation, and planning, the individual killed was not the individual intended to be killed by the suspect. Second Degree Murders are accidental deaths that are analogous to the intent and premeditation latent in First Degree Murder charges. 
Second Degree Murder Offense Profile

Legal Jurisdiction: Criminal Law
Type of Crime: Felony
Criminal Code: Varies upon the location of the crime, including the applicable country, nation, state, or province
Range of Punishment(s): Fines, probation, associated penalties, or incarceration – varies upon case details 
Duration of Punishment(s): Varies upon case details
Applicable Punishment(s): Varies upon individual intent, criminal record, criminal history, and the victim(s) involved. Second Degree Murder is only second in severity to a First Degree Murder charge. However, the convictions and subsequent punishments are oftentimes very common in legal and punitive restitution.
Second Degree Murder Allegations: Terminology and Associated Offenses  

The following are commonly associated with charges of Second Degree Murder:
Malice Aforethought: The expressed planning and deliberation with regard to a crime, which is intended to cause harm or damage.
Manslaughter: The premature termination of the life of an individual at the hands of another individuals that lacks planning, forethought, and deliberation.
First Degree Murder: The unlawful, illegal, and planned execution of an individual at the hands of another individual.
Intent: Intent is legally defined as the intended result for which one hopes as a result of any individual action or activity. In the event of an Involuntary Manslaughter charge, the prosecuting attorney is responsible to prove that suspect acted knowingly and deliberately in their respective actions resulting in the death of the victim(s) involved.
Wrongful Death: The analogous charge of Involuntary Manslaughter in a civil court.
Murder: Murder retains the inclusion of malice aforethought or intent.
Arrest Process for Second Degree Murder

Individuals who have been served documentation in the form of an arrest warrant displaying a Second Degree Murder charge, or have already been arrested by law enforcement agents, are encouraged to cooperate with the arresting officers regardless of personal belief with regard to the charges.
Individuals under arrest will be given the opportunity to consult with legal specialists subsequent to the arrest process. Resisting or fleeing from a Second Degree Murder arrest can result in harm, injury, and additional penalties. Upon arrest, an individual should be made aware of the following in order to prevent any further complication(s):
Habeas Corpus
Due Process
The Presumption of Innocence.
Upon the arrest for a Second Degree Murder charge, this is the standard arrest protocol that must be upheld by any and all arresting officers. Miranda Rights include the Fifth Amendment, which states that an individual retains the right to remain silent in order to avoid incriminating themselves. This is also known as ‘pleading the Fifth’. In addition, Miranda Rights also guarantee the following rights with regard to an arrest:
The right to remain silent
The right for any words spoken during the arrest to be admissible during a trial
The right to consult with an attorney regardless of financial stature
The acknowledgement that the individual arrested for the Second Degree Murder charge understands the aforementioned rights.



The Preparation of a Second Degree Murder Defense

Individuals are encouraged to consult with attorneys specializing in criminal law and, if possible, those who focus on Second Degree Murder legality, criminal law, and defense. In the construction of a defense, the individual may be asked to provide the nature of the Second Degree Murder in question, any included threats, the biographical information with regard to any and all victims, any previous arrests and/or convictions, evidence and witness testimony, full account of the details surrounding the event in question, and the arrangement for bail or bond.
Second Degree Murder vs. Wrongful Death
Individuals arrested on charges of Second Degree Murder should be made aware that in the event that an acquittal takes place within a criminal court, the case can be retried by the plaintiff in a civil court. Although civil law and criminal law with respect to Second Degree Murder allegations differ, the primary difference is the compensatory measures that present themselves in the event of a guilty verdict.
While criminal law verdicts can impose penalties including punitive recourse and incarceration, guilty verdicts in the scope of civil law can only render financial and monetary restitution. Second Degree Murder tried within a civil court is considered to be a Wrongful Death lawsuit.

What are Unintentional Killings?

What are Unintentional Killings?

Unintentional killings can result in criminals facing either misdemeanor or felony sentences under the criminal justice system in the United States. Criminals who have committed unintentional killings may face charges of second degree murder, felony murder, misdemeanor manslaughter, and involuntary manslaughter.
 
 
Unintentional killings, by definition, are committed by criminals who did not foresee the consequences of their actions. Unintentional killings in the criminal justice system do not contain a high amount of malice because they are not usually planned.
 
 
There are two circumstances when the criminal justice system determines that the actions of criminals have elements of malice. The first is when a felony murder has occurred. This is an unintentional killing with elements of malice because the felony was malicious and intentionally planned, even though the killing was not.
 
 
Unintentional murder is also malicious in instances where two people fight each other and one person dies. The intent to cause serious harm constitutes malice, while not rising to the same level of malice present in an intentional killing. The criminal justice system in a State which bases its legal code on Pennsylvania's scheme considers these killings to be third degree murder.
 
 
The criminal justice system also considers individuals who cause the deaths of other people through negligence or recklessness to be criminals. Under the criminal justice system, these criminals are charged with manslaughter.
 
 
Unintentional killings can also be recognized as having non-criminal circumstances under the criminal justice system.
 
 

Depraved Heart Murder Explained

Depraved Heart Murder Explained

Depraved heart murder is a characterization of a particular circumstance of second degree murder. Second degree murder, which criminal law defines as a depraved heart murder, is characterized by murder conducted with reckless disregard for the consequences of the preceding act.
West Virginia was considering adopting a set of special jury instructions in cases when the prosecution was seeking convictions of second degree murder and believed the murderer was depraved. In order for the jury to sustain a guilty verdict, the killer must have engaged in a grossly reckless act which resulted in the unintentional killing of another person and the death was caused with extreme indifference to both the value of individual life and the safety of anyone who was in the area where the act took place.
Depraved indifference, which is more commonly used term for depraved heart murder, can overcome the requirement of proving intent to kill in murder cases because the extreme indifference the killer shows towards life is more serious than their lack of intent to kill the particular victim.
One example is a father who indiscriminately shoots a gun into a crowd of people and kills his own son who he did not know was in the crowd. No matter how much the father loved the son, and would have acted to protect him if he was aware the son was in danger from another person, his indiscriminate discharging of the gun leaves him eligible for prosecution under second degree murder charges. Criminal law considers the discharging of the gun into a crowd of people such a heinous act that displays a generally malicious disposition.
Depraved heart murder is very closely related to involuntary manslaughter, but the important distinction that criminal law makes is how severe the disregard of other people is. Manslaughter occurs when there is general negligence to recognize the potential actions of the individual have to result in the harm of another person.
Second degree murder characterized by depraved indifference is when a person ignores the probability that death will occur as a result of their actions. Second degree murder by reason of depraved indifference is generally committed by individuals with sociopathic and narcissistic tendencies who see the rights and status of other people as inferior to the killer’s own existence.

Murder at a Glance

Murder at a Glance

In common law jurisdictions murder is considered an act that is malum in se, which is Latin for “evil in itself.” Murders are considered malum in se because unlike other laws, such as drunk driving laws, murder is a violation of moral norms, not a violation of a particular law.
Murders are criminal because they violate basic human understandings of acceptable behavior. Just because murder is malum in se, however, does not mean there are no murder laws.
Murder is used as a synonym for homicide. The two are not inclusive terms. All murders are homicides, but not all homicides are murders. The only difference is which word the specific criminal law selects.
In the United States, murders can fall under both Federal and State jurisdictions. States have jurisdiction if the murder happens within its borders and the Federal Government has jurisdiction if the victim is a Federal official, a person under the protection of the Federal Government, took place on Federal property, had a serious impact on interstate commerce, or crossed State lines. The Federal Government often becomes involved when there is a serial killing or if the murder happens during a crime of terrorism or kidnapping.
Before 1972, there were generally only two sentences for murder. Any murder which contained a premeditated element or happened while committing another crime was considered first degree murder and subject to the death penalty. Second degree murder was any other kind of murder. Furman v. Georgia was the Supreme Court case which tightened the restrictions under which the death penalty could be applied. As a result, states had to redefine their penal codes. There are now two different systems for recognizing degrees of murder.
Pennsylvania came up with the first response to the changes required by Furman v. Georgia. First degree murder is is the intentional, premeditated killing of another individual. Second degree murder is a case not as severe as a first degree charge, but not as light a charge as third degree murder.
Second degree murder lacks the premeditation needed in a first degree murder charge and also covers murders not considered a crime of passion. Second degree murders include murders occurring during the commission of another crime.
Third degree murder covers any murder when the perpetrator did not mean to kill the victim, only to cause harm. The Pennsylvania rubric for establishing criminality of homicide is the most prevalent.
The second classification of crime was developed in New York. New York’s classification only recognizes two different types of murder. First degree murder is a murder which happens under special circumstances, such as the murder of a police officer, firefighter, judge, witness, serial or spree killings, deaths resulting from torture, or crimes that are considered especially heinous. A premeditated murder that does not meet these circumstances is not considered first degree murder.
Second degree murder in states following New York’s lead is any murder which has an element of premeditation, but lacks one of the special circumstances present in first degree murder.
Both rubrics for charging murders also distinguish a lesser charge of manslaughter.

The Hard Facts of Murder

The Hard Facts of Murder

What is Murder?

Murder is a criminal act that is classified as the unlawful, illegal, premature, and purposeful termination of the life belonging to an individual(s) at the hands of another individual(s). Within the scope of Murder, a variety of classifications exist within the legal qualification of activity and events under judicial review in the investigation of such a case. Furthermore, a variety of additional qualifications with regard to the premature termination of the life of an individual at the hands of another; these qualifications may exist in lieu of a Murder charge or conviction.

Degrees of Murder and Manslaughter

Within a Murder charge, various degrees exist with regard to the classification of the event that has taken place. Typically, Murder charges will involve the element of forethought, planning, and malice of forethought; conversely, events that involve the premature termination of the life of an individual absent of those elements will be given alternate classification – in the event that such an event lacks malice, forethought, expressed intent, or planning, the charge of manslaughter may be more applicable in its classification:

First Degree Murder

First Degree Murder is classified as the premeditated, purposeful, illegal, and deliberate termination a life – or lives – belonging to another individual or individuals; this act takes place at the hands of another individual. This type ofMurder is considered to a crime within the justice system, which can result in the most severe penalties; this is due to the fact that it is considered to be an irrevocable act not only affecting the victim, but the victim’s friends, family, and loved ones, as well.

Second Degree Murder

Second Degree Murder is classified as the premeditated, purposeful, illegal, and deliberate termination a life – or lives – belonging to another individual or individuals. However, the individual victim whom suffered death was presumably not the intended target of the individual suspected of the act of killing; although the killing took place with malice of forethought, deliberation, and planning, the individual killed was not the individual intended to be killed by the suspect.

Second Degree Murders are accidental deaths that are analogous to the intent and premeditation latent in First Degree Murder charges; yet, in the event that an individual wished to murder an individual – and while doing so – caused the murder of another, unrelated individual.

Voluntary Manslaughter

Voluntary Manslaughter is defined as the accidental termination a life – or lives – belonging to another individual or individuals. However, Voluntary Manslaughter and murder differ in the absence of forethought, malice, or premeditation with regard their respective charges. 

Crimes of passion, which are typical in Voluntary Manslaughter cases, are defined as crimes that take place with violent – or criminal – intent; yet the nature of these crimes are impulsive and oftentimes retain neither planning, deliberation, nor the intent to commit murder.

Involuntary Manslaughter

Involuntary Manslaughter is defined as a type of manslaughter, which results in the untimely death of an individual as a result of the actions of another individual. Involuntary Manslaughter can be classified as crimes that retain neither planning, deliberation, nor the intent to commit murder; Involuntary Manslaughter retains the least amount of culpability with regard to any manslaughter or murder charge as a result of the accidental or non-deliberate nature of the crime.

Famous Murders You Should Know

Famous Murders You Should Know

What are
Famous Murders?

Famous murders refer to the premature killing of
an individual who is regarded as a public figure. These cases typically draw
the attention of mass-media outlets because the victim of the crime was notorious
or famous.
 

Famous
murder cases not only deal with the legal aspect of the particular trial, but
incorporate the particular nation’s sentiment towards the victim. Oftentimes
famous murders stretch beyond the captivation and sadness of a nation to
incorporate the entire world.
 

A famous
murder will arise if an individual who is in the limelight is prematurely
killed at the hands of another individual. Although the death of the victim is
publicized, the attached punishment does not typically waver from a regular
murder case. In addition to the victim being regarded as a public figure, a
famous murder case can also place the famous individual as the aggressor or
defendant.

Famous
murder cases take the form of court trials in the scope of criminal law. These
cases typically involve the killing of a politician, a movie star, an athlete,
royalty, a famous business man, or any individual who has garnered the respect,
attention, or notoriety of a nation. In addition to the subjects being famous,
famous murder cases can also arise through eerie details or unsolved crimes.
These situations typically arise if a serial killer is being tried or if the
crimes in question were particularly brutal, tragic, or perplexing. In essence,
a famous murder case is realized when the nation, through the attention of
media outlets, is captivated by the drama that takes place within the courtroom.

Some
examples of famous murders include: the assassination of John F. Kennedy, the
O.J. Simpson murder trial, the slaying of John Lennon, various Mob killings,
the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, the Black Dahlia Case, and the Charles
Manson trial.

Year and a Day Rule You Must Know

Year and a Day Rule You Must Know

The Year and a Day rule required that the death of the victim must have occurred within 366 days of the attack in order to be ruled a murder. The Year and a Day rule has fallen out of favor with the advent of advances in medical technology, especially advances in life support. 
A Year and a Day rule prevented the prosecution of murder cases based not on the merits of the case, but because of an increased ability of doctors to prolong the lives of their patients. Advances in the forensic sciences have also allowed investigators to identify cases where the primary contributing factor in an individual’s death was perpetrated years in advance.
The application of Year and a Day rules vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. New Zealand still follows the Year and a Day rule. England and Wales require a dispensation from the Attorney General before prosecutors are allowed to file murder charges against individuals if the act which is believed to lie at the root of the death happened more than three years prior to the individual’s death. 
In Hong Kong, prosecutors do not require any special permission from the Secretary of Justice to prosecute offenses. Permission to prosecute a charge of murder is also required when there has already been a conviction for the underlying crime.
In the United States, the legal status of a Year and a Day rule is uncertain. Many states have repealed laws preventing the prosecution of murders caused by acts a year and a day before the death. In 2001, the Supreme Court ruled that prosecutors could pursue murder charges not previously allowed. The Supreme Court ruled that these prosecutions did not violate the ex post facto provisions of the United States Constitution. 
Rogers v. Tennessee determined that the common law standard that the crime and the death had to be within a year and a day only made sense when medicine and forensic sciences were still primitive. Invoking the reasonable person standard, the Supreme Court ruled that otherwise beneficial medical advances should not prevent the execution of justice.
Despite the 2001 Supreme Court ruling, however, the fact that the United States has a common law heritage which includes a Year and a Day rules has continued to be invoked by individuals facing murder convictions as a successful appeal for why their convictions should be overturned. These successful appeals continued for several years following the Court’s decision in Rogers v. Tennessee.
The abolition of the Year and a Day rule does not relieve the prosecution of its burden to prove the commission of a crime. In fact, it may make the prosecution of murder cases more difficult because unlike in other cases there may not be an immediately clear chain of causation between the death of the individual and the attack which the prosecution is attempting to prove caused the death.
In other cases, where the death occurred at the scene of the crime, it is easy to prove cause and effect between the violent act and the death. When the deceased has been comatose for a decade, it may be less immediately apparent that the violent attack was the cause of death.

Murder Laws at a Glance

Murder Laws at a Glance

It is important to note that in the United States, each State is responsible for establishing its own laws and 
regulations regarding murder. However, each State recognizes different types of murder charges.
The three primary murders include first degree murder, second degree murder, and manslaughter. In order to be convicted of first degree murder, an individual must have had the intent to murder his/her victim and he/she must have planned the murder prior to the event. Second degree murder occurs when the offender intended to murder his/her victim, but did not plan the murder in advance. For instance, the murder may have occurred due to rage or jealousy following the acquisition of new information regarding an intimate partner and his/her actions or behavior. 
Manslaughter occurs when an offender kills his/her victim without intent. This generally results from an accident in which the offender was acting negligently or recklessly.

The Facts of Felony Murder

The Facts of Felony Murder

A felony murder is any murder which happens during the commission of another felony. Felony murders happen when a person is killed while the killer is committing a serious crime. The felony murder statute only applies when the murder was not originally intended.
Felony murder also includes instances when a person dies without the direct action of the killer. Felony murders can be charged if the victim falls down a flight of stairs when attempting to stop a burglar, but can also be charged if a bank manager suffers a fatal heart attack while a bank vault is being robbed. A case of sodomy, which is also known as deviant sexual intercourse, can result in a felony murder charge if the insertion of the foreign body causes sufficient internal injury so as to result in death of the person sexually violated.
The only lesser crime which is not considered as aggravating felony murder is assault. Assault is not a crime which can be included in felony murders because all murders involve assaults. A felony murder may occur in an assault case if the assault targeted one person but resulted in the death of a second.
Felony murders only occur during the commission of the felonies of rape, burglary, arson, robbery, sodomy, and escaping from jail. Federal statues expand felony murder to include terrorism, kidnapping, and carjacking. Felony murder may elevate a circumstance which would otherwise be considered a case of manslaughter to be considered a murder charge.
Felony murders make up the entirety of second degree murder charges in states which base their legal code on Pennsylvania’s criminal justice system. Pennsylvania-based criminal justice systems do not allow for specific felony-based murder convictions. Felony murder, as a legal concept, only exists in states which are based on New York’s codifications.
There is a related idea of misdemeanor manslaughter. This is a less severe degree of felony murder. While felony murders occur during the commission of serious and major crimes, known as felonies, misdemeanor manslaughters are deaths that occur during the violation of minor laws, called misdemeanors.

The Facts on Intentional Killings

The Facts on Intentional Killings

Intentional killings are killings which contain the highest degree of criminality. Criminal justice officials consider every intentional killing to be a felony. Intentional killings contain a high degree of premeditation. Criminal justice systems consider all intentional killings which contain elements of criminality to be murder.
 
 
Murder has the highest degrees of criminality, although depending on the amount of criminality revealed during the investigation, different charges may be filed. The finding of an intentional killing is the essential element of any murder charge, including but not limited to first, second, or third degree murder, voluntary manslaughter, and vehicular homicide.
 
 
Non-criminal intentional killings also exist. An intentional killing enacted by an individual carrying out a criminal justice proceeding, such as a person who imposes a State-ordered death penalty or a law enforcement official forced to kill a person resisting arrest, is considered a non-criminal intentional killing.
 
 
Other instances of intentional killings which are not considered violations of criminal justice laws include instances of self-defense, defense of property, and intentional killings in defense of another. The fact that these intentional killings lack the standard criminality associated with homicide are considered exceptions to normal criminal justice laws.