Topics: Murder, Manslaughter, Death Penalty Pages: 2 (551 words) Published: November 15, 2013
What is homicide? Homicide is the killing of one person by another but not all homicides constitute crimes. Certain exceptions, such as several killings in self-defense, are not crimes. Criminal homicides array from involuntary manslaughter to first degree murder, with gradations along the range of possible charges. Aspects which drive a killing from one class to another include whether the killing was premeditated, the killer intended to cause death, the killer acted on purpose when causing death, the killer acted with criminal negligence, recklessness, or with obvious disregard for human life. Different states draw slightly different lines between the various types of manslaughter and murder charges. Sentences handed down upon conviction vary widely between the different charges, and can include life without the possibility of parole, and the death penalty in most states, for first degree murder convictions. In most states, first-degree murder is defined as an unlawful killing that is both willful and premeditated, meaning that it was committed after planning. States divide murders into degrees, with first degree murder representing the worst form of homicide crime. State laws vary as to what exactly constitutes murder in the first degree, but it generally includes murders committed by people who willfully take a life after having a chance to think about what they are doing. An example would be a man comes home to find his wife in bed with another man. Three days later, the husband waits beside a building near the other mans house. When the other man comes out of the house, the husband shoots and kills him. Second-degree murder is normally defined as an intentional killing that is not premeditated or planned, nor committed in a reasonable "heat of passion" or a killing caused by dangerous demeanor and the offender's evident lack of concern for human life. Second-degree murder may best be viewed as the middle ground between first-degree murder and...
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