Murder in the First Degree or Murder in the Second Degree: what is the difference?
- posted: Mar. 08, 2021
There are two primary differences between murder in the first degree and murder in the second degree. Those primary differences are deliberation and the range of punishment available for each offense.
To be guilty of murder in the first degree, the defendant must have knowingly caused the death of another person after deliberation upon the matter. Deliberation is defined as “cool reflection for any length of time no matter how brief.” The requirement of deliberation is not present for any of the ways for a defendant to be guilty of murder in the second degree. To be guilty of murder in the second degree, the defendant simply must have knowingly caused the death of another person, caused the death of another person with the purpose of causing serious physical injury to another person, or while committing or attempting to commit a felony, or in flight therefrom, another person is killed (commonly referred to as felony murder).
For persons eighteen years of age or older on the date of the offense, the punishment for murder in the first degree is either the death penalty or imprisonment for life without eligibility for probation or parole. The punishment for murder in the second degree is imprisonment for a term of not less than ten years and not to exceed thirty years, or life imprisonment (with eligibility for probation or parole).
If you, a family member, or friend has been accused of or charged with murder in Missouri, our legal team at Parker Law LLC is committed to helping you obtain the most favorable outcome possible. At Parker Law LLC, we believe in pursuing excellence with every client.