It has long been the general rule that, when a single crime can be committed in various ways, jurors need not agree upon the mode of commission (Justia, 2014). In Schad v. Arizona, the defendant was convicted of first-degree murder, a charge that does not require the jury to unanimously agree on a single theory as to the mode of commission. Under Arizona law, first-degree murder is characterized as a single offense crime in which the jury need not agree on one of the alternative statutory theories of premeditated or felony murder rendering it as not an unconstitutional charge (Legal Information Institute, 2014). The question of the case is whether it was constitutionally acceptable to allow the jury to reach on verdict based on any combinations of the alternative findings (Legal Information Institute, 2014).
Questioning the constitutionality of Arizona’s single offense crime of first-degree murder appears to be somewhat of a mute point when the two mental states required to satisfy the mental elements exhibit sufficient similarities. The highly culpable mental state implicit in consciously engaging in criminal activities known to carry a grave risk of death mirror the same disregard for human life found in the mental state connected with premeditation (Justia, 2014). Requiring jurors to unanimously agree upon the various ways in which first-degree murder was committed, would be not only tedious, but irrelevant if the methods do not require separate theories of crime.
Although it may