Have you ever faced the loss of a friend? Are you going through a trial for the murder that you have not committed? Know all about types of murders in this article!
The killing rate has been increasing with the passage of time. Whether it is homicide, femicide, manslaughter, or murder, all are at peak. No one can safely take a walk or even stay in their homes. Although murder is a grave crime, people commit it anyway. However, there are various types of murders that a person can commit.
It is important to keep an eye on your surroundings, you never know who has the intention of killing you or someone else. Let’s hop into the details of the types of murders and what are some penalties for these crimes.
Table of Contents
- 1 What is murder?
- 2 Who is a murderer?
- 3 What are the types of murders?
- 3.1 First degree murder
- 3.2 Second-degree murder
- 3.3 Third-degree murder
- 4 Murder charges for each degree
- 5 Difference between first second and third-degree murder
- 6 Defense to a murder
- 7 What evidence is used?
- 8 Difference between murder and manslaughter
- 9 What degree is serial killing?
- 10 Who is not eligible for a death penalty?
- 11 Compensation for victim’s family
- 12 Bottom line
What is murder?
In formal terms, murder is said to be committed if a sane person, a person with a sound mind, “unlawfully kills another human being” with the sheer intention of “bodily harm or death”. Different states define murder differently but their meaning is synonymous. In short, murder is the killing of a human being intentionally.
Who is a murderer?
A person, who is accused of killing an innocent person purposely is a murderer. Although murder is a serious crime, the sentence and penalty of the crime differ according to its type. Further in the text, we will be discussing some types of murders and their penalties.
What are the types of murders?
Are you aware of the types of murders? what is 1st, 2nd, and 3rd-degree murders? We will have a detailed look upon each type of murder along with its elements.
First degree murder
It refers to the harming a person to cause serious injury or eventually death with no regard to human life. It is the most serious offense of all degrees. First degree murder involves pre-planned murder. In this type, the murderer plans the murder days before attempting it.
For instance, a husband unplugged the gas hose before leaving for the office so the place could catch fire or a karen buying poison to kill the neighbor beforehand. All these are included in first degree murders. Sometimes, felony murder is also considered first degree murder.
Elements of murder
The first-degree murder is pre-planned. It is not attempted unconsciously or in self-defense. The murderer first plots the murder and then executes it at the right time. Premeditation includes the preparation of the murder weapon, place, and other necessary circumstances.
It is the legal term indicating the pre-planning of the grave crime to disregard human life.
The first degree murders are always committed while having evil intentions towards the person. Thus, with this intent, the murderer attacks the victim and kills him.
Types of first-degree murders
Felony murder is the type of murder in which killing happens when committing any other heinous crime. For instance, two people meet for drug dealing whereas the dealer robs the buyer and in defense, the buyer kills the dealer. The buyer will be charged with the first degree of murder with a Class 2 felony.
Then we have the premeditated or pre-planned murders. They include all murders which are plotted in the first place. For instance, a boy is called to a construction site to deliver a package and the murderer present there kills him as soon as he reaches the place.
Committing murder with specific means is included in these types of murders. For instance, with poison, by shooting, or with a knife.
Second-degree murder is a less severe case of murder. It is considered manslaughter with no prior planning of killing. It is believed that the accused had the intention to cause harm to the victim but he had not planned it perhaps it was a sudden event. Although it is performed without premeditation, it is an unlawful killing because it involves malicious intentions.
Elements of second-degree murder
Intentional without premeditation
In second-degree murder, the accused kills the victim with bad intention but with no pre-planning.
Intent to cause harm
The accused is regarded as a harmful individual who had the intention to hurt an individual by killing or causing bodily harm.
Now, what do you know about third-degree murder? It is considered a man slaughter with some difference from second and First degree murders. Third-degree murder is considered when the accused kills a victim with no intention or premeditation. It might be the cause of self-defense.
Elements of third-degree murder
Intention to harm
In third-degree murder, the defendant has the intention to cause harm but no intent to kill the victim.
There is no pre-meditation in the third degree. It is done without the intention or planning of the crime.
Murder charges for each degree
Murder is a grave sin therefore, it has some hard penalties. It should be noted that a person is not sentenced to death or any penalty until found guilty. The court goes through the first week of trial in which the alleged murderer is considered guilty. Once the crime is proven, the court moves to the second phase of the trial. In this phase, all the previous records of crime or murder are brought forward. If the accused is proven to have committed any other killing or major crimes then he will be sentenced to punishment accordingly.
Penalties for first degree murder
If the accused has been proven of murder along with other serious crimes or killing he will be sentenced to death. Other crimes may include the killing of a witness, a prosecutor, a police officer or rape, and multiple murders in past.
Life imprisonment involves the punishment until release. In some cases, the murderer might be released on parole depending upon the nature of the crime committed.
Natural life imprisonment
Natural life imprisonment refers to imprisonment till the murderer dies of natural causes.
Attempt to first degree murder
For instance, a man intentionally disconnects the wires of wife’s car’s brakes but she is saved because she jumped out of the car. This type of situation is referred to as an attempt at first-degree murder. The penalty for an attempt at first-degree murder includes 7 years to 21 years of imprisonment.
Penalties for second-degree murder
It is known that the penalty for second-degree murder is 10 to 25 years of imprisonment. However, it depends upon the seriousness of the murder. It also depends on the nature, location, and weapon used in the crime.
The limit of punishment depends on how the murderer has killed its victim. If he had specified hatred and used certain techniques or tools to kill, the imprisonment could be longer. However, if the accused is said to have any mental illness, no history of crime, and genuine regret towards the act, the imprisonment can be shortened by the prosecution.
Attempt to second-degree murder
If someone attempts to kill but failed will be categorized under class 2 felony murder. In an attempt to second-degree murder, the penalty could be from 7 years of prison to 20 years.
Penalties for third-degree murder
In some states, the accused is bound to spend some time in prison but in most cases, they are only fined. However, the fine differs concerning the severity of the situation. If there is an inclusion of a firearm, then there could be a prison for up to 40 years and in other cases, there could be up to a $10,000 fine. In some circumstances, the murderer can be released on probation for a year with welfare tasks assigned.
Difference between first second and third-degree murder
Till now, we have got enough knowledge about what are the 3 types of murders. However, there is a lot more to know about the types of murders and different types of murder charges. All three types of murders have differences, therefore, they are categorized in three degrees. The major difference between degrees of murder is the intent of killing, the severity of killing, the way of killing, and the severity of punishment The table below discusses the difference between the three types of murders.
|Variables||First degree||Second degree||Third degree|
|Level of offense||Highest||middling||low|
|Elements||Intentional, preplanned, “malice afterthought”||Intentional,||Accidental killing|
|Mean of killing||Poison, knife, gun etc||Any weapon||Any weapon|
|Penalties||Life imprisonment, death penalty, no parole||Life imprisonment||Imprisonment, release on parole|
Defense to a murder
In all types of murders, defense differs according to the circumstances. However, these defenses are only valid if the defendant’s attorney has proven evidence.
In first degree murder, the defendant can bring forward the defense of their identity being mistaken with the original criminal. The attorney is required to provide a witness or footage to prove that the defendant is telling the truth. Oftentimes some other person is mistaken by the witness or officers which makes him the “accused”.
Having a witness in a murder case makes it easier for you to defend yourself. Thus, if you have a witness who can assure that you were not involved in the murder, you will not be charged.
Although first degree murders are premeditated and intentional, at certain times they are accidental (which is third-degree murder). Thus, when the defendant proves to have been killed accidentally and lawfully, they can be compensated for that.
Most of the time, the accused brings forward the insanity defense. In this defense, the accused is said to have a mental illness and is unconscious of their actions. They lack the cognitive ability and do not consider the act immoral.
First degree murder involves premeditated killing along with the motive. You can prove to the prosecution that you do not have any motive to commit the crime.
Killing that takes place by the hands of a law enforcement officer when trying to stop an unlawful act is considered a strong defense. The only exception here is that an officer must be on the line of duty otherwise, it will be considered a first degree murder.
The defendant can challenge the evidence. In most cases, the investigation is not done properly therefore, the evidence collected might be wrong. Thus, by putting forward the weak evidence defense and re-investigation, the defendant can win the case.
It is the most common defense used against murder accusations. You may have used the force to protect yourself and end up killing the other person. This force to defend yourself against a threatening situation is justifiable.
If you are being forced or threatened by someone to kill a person, you will face less serious charges and not second-degree murder charges. It will be categorized as manslaughter.
It is observed that sudden fights between youngsters result in loss of control and eventually killing. If this is the situation, the accused will be sentenced for manslaughter, not second-degree murder.
You may prove your innocence to the prosecution by showing evidence like footage and DNA reports.
Prove your insanity or lack of cognitive ability to not get charged with murder.
Defense of others
If you have killed while protecting your family, friend, or even a stranger, you can use it for your defense.
What evidence is used?
Evidence is the proof that tends to prove the happening or not happening of the crime. It can be a physical object related to the crime or a forensic report. Evidence that can be used to apply different types of murders charges can be broadly divided into two categories:
- Physical evidence
- Forensic evidence
As the name suggests, a physical evidence is the materials or objects involved in a crime or found at the crime scene which may be related to the actual murderer. Below is the list of physical evidence that can be found at the crime scene.
Material objects, such as a cigarette, piece of cloth, or a shoe, matches with that of the accused, and he will be charged with the murder.
Photo and video evidence are key to solving any criminal case. If the crime scene or the places surrounding the crime scene have CCTV cameras, the footage will be acquired and matched if there is any evidence of the presence of the accused. Furthermore, there are rare chances of a video or photo taken, unintentionally, of the crime taking place.
Witness is another crucial element in a murder mystery. Having a witness against you will cause havoc. You will be charged for the relevant crime. However, there is sometimes a need for multiple witnesses, to prove that right.
The world is now digital. Who doesn’t have a phone? If a criminal is an ordinary person, he will have his phone with him every time. In some cases, the mobile location of the accused is checked at the time when the crime is committed.
It might be raining on the day of the murder. Or there might be a water pipe leakage in the front or backyard. This may lead to the imprints of the criminal’s shoes. Those marks can be matched with the suspects. However, it is not resilient proof because two people can have the same shoes. Thus, it might be absurd.
Killing for the first time may lead to many mishaps like forgetting the murder weapon at the crime scene. That weapon can be used as strong evidence against you.
Forensic evidence is scientific evidence that is obtained through scientific methods like DNA testing. Following are some common types of evidence used in the investigation of different types of murder charges.
Every human being has a different fingerprint. Therefore, it is the most eligible evidence to be used against a suspect. If the fingerprint of the suspect is found on the victim’s body (like when strangling or forcing) or an object nearby, they will be charged for probably first-degree murder.
It may seem weird but saliva is also taken into evidence often. For instance, the murderer is a friend or a family member of the victim who had a drink or coffee before committing the crime. The traces of their saliva present on the glass can be matched with that of the suspect.
If the killer is not a familiar person who tries to break in the victim may attack him which can lead to bleeding. That blood will be sent for DNA analysis and whoever has the same DNA will be charged with the first degree of murder.
Sometimes the victim struggles to free himself from the grasp of the killer and in this force, the victim might get his hands on the killer’s hair. It is one of the strongest pieces of evidence to convict someone of murder charges.
Difference between murder and manslaughter
Murder and manslaughter both lie under the category of homicide. However, to commit a murder, the murderer will have the aim, intention, and malice aforethought for the victim. Whereas manslaughter is unlawful killing without intention or premeditation. It usually occurs in self-defense whereas murder is a conscious act of unlawful killing.
What degree is serial killing?
Serial killing is the unlawful act of killing one or more persons with a similar method at different times. Serial killing is a type of homicide that does not fall under the category of any degree of murder precisely.
A point to be noted is that a serial killer can be a first-degree murderer and a second-degree murderer. But how is it? Let us explain. A serial killer might have the intention to kill people of a certain race and a particular weapon because of a psychological motive. It will fall under the first degree murder. However, if the killer does not have a motive, he still might kill for satisfaction, it will be considered second-degree murder.
Moreover, serial killers are said to have a disturbing mentality which leads them to kill others. Therefore, laws have been made which treat serial killing as a separate homicide.
Who is not eligible for a death penalty?
There is leverage for every type of person in law. Below are the categories who are not eligible for the death penalty in a murder case:
Mentally unstable person
A person who has proven mental illness is considered a mentally unstable person. If the suspect has a record of mental illness like schizophrenia, paranoid disorder, or any other type of hallucination illness, he will not be charged with murder. Instead, he will be sent to rehabilitation and might be fined for the damage done.
On duty officer
A law enforcement officer must stand against the crime or any unlawful activity. If a police officer, on-duty, kills a criminal, might not be charged with the death penalty. He may have the intention of killing and premeditation but for the sake of law protection, he will be fined only.
Compensation for victim’s family
The death of a family member cannot be compensated in any way. However, if the victim’s family asks for compensation for their loss, it will be granted. To launch compensation, you will require a solicitor to carry out the legal proceedings.
Types of compensation
Every liability of crime is eligible for different compensation. Some of them are mentioned below:
Victim’s family is eligible to ask for compensation for the long term that will cover loss of care.
If the murdered individual was contributing to the household or was the only one providing for the family, the compensation will be granted.
If the victim was kept under medical care before his death, the cost of the medical bill will be covered by the compensation.
Reason for compensation
There could be many reasons for which the victim’s family could ask for compensation of which some are mentioned below.
- Murder of one relative
- Funeral cost
- Murder of more than one relative
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
The time limit of compensation
Although it is a hard time for a family whose member has been killed. Despite this fact, the family can call for compensation. Note that the time for launching a compensation is up to two years from the date or murder. If the time is exceeded, there will be no compensation.
No matter how much you protect yourself from heinous crimes, once in a lifetime all of us become victims of one. However, every crime is of distinct severity therefore the penalties are given accordingly. Meanwhile, for the types of murder, it is always prison or sometimes the death penalty and in exceptional cases only fines. No matter what, we must stay vigilant of our surroundings so that none of us or our loved ones could get hurt.