Damico & Stockstill, Attorneys at Law

What are the elements of first-degree murder?

Being accused of murder involves severe allegations and could result in a defendant enduring harsh penalties for the rest of or a large portion of life. It is important to take these charges seriously by not only understanding the charges, but also the defense options available to the defendants.

What are the elements of first-degree murder? To begin, let's define this crime. It is the unlawful killing of a human being that is both willful and pre-meditated. In other words, a person planned to commit the murder of another person. This crime also occurs if any death occurs in the commission of certain violent felonies. This includes arson, burglary, kidnapping, rape and robbery.

There are three basic elements of first-degree murder: willfulness, deliberation and pre-meditation. Willfulness refers to a person's intent. The person had the intent to end a human life. Deliberation and pre-meditation refer to having enough time to plan the act and second guess the act. This could happen very quickly. However, it must occur before the act of killing. Many state laws state that the accused must have acted with malice or malice aforethought when committing first-degree murder. This means having an evil purpose and an indifference to human life.

Facing murder charges is a serious situation, but there may be defense actions available. If the accused can prove that at least one of the elements of this crime is not met, this could result in reduced or dismissed charges. It is vital to take timely action to assert a criminal defense.

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