Murder is a serious crime, and the law seeks to provide justice to the victim’s family while considering the circumstances and state of mind of the perpetrator. There are different degrees of murder based on the intent and manner of the act. These include first, second, and third-degree murder, with the third degree often termed as manslaughter or homicide depending on the location. The distinction between first and second-degree murder may not always be clear. However, any murder conviction leads to imprisonment and a permanent criminal record, affecting employment, housing, social opportunities, and benefits. It’s essential to recognize the gravity of the situation and seek skilled legal representation to mount a defense against such charges. 

First-Degree Murder

First-degree murder is the most serious homicide charge and it involves intentionally killing someone after planning and considering the act. This means the killing is deliberate, premeditated, and with a clear intent to cause death. For instance, in Pennsylvania, intentional killing includes using poison, lying in wait, or any willful and planned act resulting in death. It is also considered a first-degree murder if a defendant commits a forcible felony, such as armed robbery, and that act results in someone’s death.

For instance, if you went to someone’s house with a gun, hid outside, and then shot them upon their return, it would be considered first-degree murder. However, if the killing occurred during an unexpected fight or a similar situation where emotions were high, it might be seen differently, resulting in lesser penalties for a different type of murder.

Second-Degree Murder

Second-degree murder occurs when someone intentionally kills another person, but there are factors affecting their state of mind at the time. This charge is less severe than first-degree murder because there’s no premeditation involved. In 2nd degree murder cases, the prosecutor doesn’t have to prove prior intent to kill. This sets it apart from first-degree murder charges. Still, second-degree murder carries serious consequences. If convicted for murder in the second degree, you could spend your life in prison. It’s crucial to have a dedicated and experienced Philadelphia criminal lawyer to challenge the prosecution’s case.

In second-degree murder cases, both the person who committed the crime and anyone involved in a related felony can be charged. For instance, in Pennsylvania, if you’re part of a felony, like being the driver in a crime, you could be charged with conspiracy to commit second-degree murder. The “principal” is the person who commits the crime, while “perpetration of a felony” means being involved in a felony like robbery, rape, arson, burglary, or kidnapping, including actions taken after the crime.

What Are The Consequences Of First Degree And Second-Degree Murder?

When it comes to murder charges, the consequences vary depending on the degree of the crime. Murder in 1st degree represents the most severe offense, carrying penalties such as death or life imprisonment without parole. This degree is distinguished by its clear intent—showing premeditation, planning, and willfulness. On the other hand, second-degree murder, typically occurring during felonies like robbery or burglary, leads to life imprisonment without parole upon conviction. Both degrees carry significant legal ramifications, reflecting the gravity of the crime committed.

How Can Lawyers Assist Individuals Who Have Been Accused Of Different Degrees Of Murder?

The legal system in Philadelphia may pose challenges for those without legal expertise. However, with the assistance of a skilled homicide attorney, you stand a better chance of achieving a favorable outcome in your murder case. Their knowledge and experience can provide a significant advantage, regardless of the degree of the charge.

An attorney can easily distinguish between the various types of murder charges and identify any inadequacies or inconsistencies in the charge sheet. They can then negotiate with the prosecution for better outcomes before trial or represent you effectively in court. Therefore, having legal representation can greatly increase the likelihood of achieving the best possible outcome in your case. Contact The Law Offices of Lidia Alperovich today to schedule a consultation!