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First & Second Degree

What is the Difference Between 1st Degree and 2nd Degree Murder?

1st degree murder is when the defendant committed an act causing the death of the victim with the intent to kill the victim and the intent to kill was premediated and the killing was done deliberately without being justified or excused.

2nd degree murder is when the defendant committed an act causing the death of the victim and defendant’s state of mind was one of these states of minds: defendant intended to kill the victim, defendant intended to do great bodily harm, or defendant knowingly created a high risk of death or great bodily harm and knew that death or such harm was likely as a result of their actions.

In addition to what constitutes 1st degree or 2nd degree murder, the penalties associated with each are vastly different. 1st degree murder’s penalty is imprisonment for life without the eligibility of parole. On the other hand, 2nd degree murder’s penalty is imprisonment for life or any term of years.

What Exactly Does That Mean?

If a defendant is convicted of 1st degree murder they will be spending the rest of their life behind bars, unlike a defendant who is convicted of 2nd degree murder who may have the opportunity to partition for parole and be released from prison.

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