Murder Research Paper

Submitted By samiam2519
Words: 3430
Pages: 14

Samantha Graves #1169718 Homicide is the killing of one human being by another human being. Not all homicides are considered crimes. However, murder is a crime. Murder is the unlawful killing of another person or fetus with malice aforethought. Murder is separated by degrees which are First Degree Murder, Second Degree Murder and Felony Murder. The mens rea, or mental state, of the individual plays the role in determining what type of murder the person may be charged with and punished for. First degree murder is the most severe form of homicide. First degree murder is the willful, deliberate and premeditated killing of another human being. The willful, deliberate and premeditated is what separates first degree murder from all other forms of murder. Willful means that the person intended to kill the other person. Deliberate means the killer is acting with a “cool mind” and is not acting out of impulse or rage. Premeditate is to think beforehand, as in the killer planned the murder. For example, Jennifer decides she is going to kill her husband because he left her for another woman. Jennifer goes to a gun shop and purchases a gun. Jennifer then goes to her husband’s work and waits for him in a parking garage. When Jennifer sees her husband trying to get into his car she shoots and kills him. Jennifer has met the elements of first degree murder. Jennifer’s murdering of her husband is willful, deliberate and premeditated. Second degree murder is a non-premeditated murder. Second degree murder can occur in situations such as impulsive killings and acts intending to cause serious bodily harm. The distinction between first and second degree murder is second degree murder lacks premeditation or the presence of a specific intent to kill. For example, Steve comes home to find his wife in bed with Brad. The next week, Steve sees Brad walking down a busy street. Steve pulls out a gun and fires three shots at Brad. However the shots miss Brad but kill a lady walking instead. Steve would be charged with second degree murder. This is because Steve lacked the premeditation to cause the death of the lady walking by. Felony murder applies if a death results during the commission of a felony. The person committing the felony will be liable for the death and charged under the felony murder rule. The felony murder rule applies to specific felonies. These felonies pose a high risk of danger to human life. Such specific crimes include, rape, mayhem, arson, kidnapping, and robbery. The elements of felony murder are 1. The defendant must have been engaged in the commission or attempted commission of a named felony 2. During the commission, or attempted commission, of that felony a death occurred and 3. There is a causal connection between the crime and the death. For example, Justin and Ryan are robbing a bank. During the robbery, the bank teller suffers a heart attack due to the stress from the robbery and dies. Both Justin and Ryan would be held liable for the death of the teller under the felony murder rule. This is because they both participated in a dangerous felony and that dangerous felony caused the death of a person. As mentioned previously, murder is the unlawful killing of another person or fetus with malice aforethought. Malice aforethought is the mens rea (mental state) required to be guilty of murder. Malice aforethought exists when a person intends to kill another person. Malice aforethought can be expressed or implied. “Once it is shown that the killing resulted from the intentional doing of an act with express or implied malice no other mens rea needs to be shown to establish the mental state of malice aforethought” California Penal Code 189. Most states have separated murder into different degrees and no longer recognize the one form of murder under common law. Therefore, malice aforethought is not necessary for all forms of murder. Malice aforethought is only necessary for first degree murder. This is because the malice