A murder is a crime in which an individual unlawfully and unjustifiably kills another person. However, as you know, even though someone has killed someone, the circumstances are often largely able to be explained. No case is completely black and white, and those accused of murdering others deserve a chance to fight for their freedoms and to explain their actions.
A first-degree murder is the highest level of criminal homicide. This charge is reserved for those who willfully killed others or premeditated the killing of another party. If you are accused of a first-degree murder, the prosecution is alleging that you intended and planned to kill the other party.
There are some cases where the felony murder rule may apply. With this rule, even accidental deaths can be charged as first-degree murders due to them taking place during certain violent felonies. Some of these violent felonies may include:
What are the elements of first-degree murders?
With first-degree murders, it’s necessary for the prosecution to prove:
In some states, the prosecution will also need to show malicious aforethought separately, while others include this as part of the above three requirements.
What counts as intent?
Intent, or willfulness, is your goal of ending a human life. If you have the intent to kill, then the willfulness element may be fulfilled. Intent, interestingly, doesn’t have to correspond to the exact victim. For example, if you walk into a bar and intend on killing anyone who you happen to shoot, this is still an intentional, and willful, act.
What counts as premeditation?
Premeditation means that you contemplated killing someone else. The length of time is not specified. If you have enough time to think about, second guess and continue to go through with the action of murdering another person, then that counts as premeditation. It can happen very quickly, but it cannot happen at the same time as the killing taking place.
What should you do if you’re accused of murder?
A murder charge is one of the most serious charges you can face in court. The good news is that the responsibility of proving your intention falls on the shoulders of the prosecution. Your defense attorney will talk to you about what you can do to make certain that you are protected and treated fairly in court. They will also work with you to build a strong defense to the charges.