THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN FIRST- AND SECOND-DEGREE MURDER
April 1, 2015
When a Texas resident is accused of killing another, they may be charged with murder. However, there are several different charges that may be filed against a person, including first-degree murder, second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter. In order to be charged with second-degree murder, the person must be accused of intentionally killing another person.
In many jurisdictions, second-degree murder is considered to be a middle ground between involuntary manslaughter and first-degree murder. The main difference between first- and second-degree murder is whether the murder is premeditated; in second-degree murder, the accused person does not plan the incident, which may occur in the heat of the moment. However, malice towards the individual may have already existed, or the act could have demonstrated a disregard for the safety of the other person.
To be convicted of first-degree murder, the killing must have been planned, and the person involved in the incident willingly caused the death. There are instances where a killing may be considered first-degree murder even if there was no intent to kill or premeditation, however. These instances may include the killing of a child, the death of a person following systematic domestic abuse and the killing of a police officer. Additionally, if the death occurred during another violent crime, such as rape or robbery, the person involved may be charged with first-degree murder.
The punishments for those who are convicted of homicide can be incredibly severe and may include a lengthy prison sentence. In some cases, an attorney may create a defense for the accused person in order to reduce the consequences or avoid the punishments altogether. If there is any doubt that the accused person did not cause the death, the attorney may argue that the person is innocent. Otherwise, they may argue self-defense.