What is 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Degree Murders: The Definite Guide

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What is 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Degree Murders

What is 1st, 2nd, and 3rd degree murders? Are you trying to find about all of these degrees of murders? if you are, you are in the right place where you should be. Murder is the most heinous crime of all. It takes one’s lives away from him or her. The same case is with the murderers. They are the loathsome persons in society. However, in different states of the world, the rate of crime in case of murder has been measured differently.

Sentences for the three different degrees of murders are diverse in different states just as their laws and regulations differ, such as sentences for degrees of murders in Canada are different from sentences in California. Although having a difference in sentences, all murders fall in the same category of crime, the highest possible crimes of all. Here go a detailed discussion on the various sentences for the first, second, and third-degree murders in different states.

In most cases, murder crimes get categorized as first, second, and third-degree murders. Their sentences also vary a lot. Let’s discuss what is 1st, 2nd, and 3rd degree murders and their sentences in detail in the next sections.

What is 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Degree Murders?

Most people are really confused about these different kinds of murders. It is because, they are only try to find about them when they need or face any legal issues related to murders. They always get help from lawyer, but as a sensible citizen, you need to know different types of murders for your own good. So that no one can take advantages due to your lack of knowledge about it. Without any further due, let’s discuss about them. We will discuss every kinds of murders with their sentences, so that you can understand the consequences about all these murder types. Let’s start by discussing about 1st degree murder.

What is First Degree Murder?

First-degree murder is the illegal killing of a person on the basis of a blueprint that the murderer has painted before. First-degree murder meaning basically varies from state to state.

In most cases, this murder is intentional as well as premeditated. The murderer makes a cool-headed plan on how he will murder the victim. Malicious aforethought is deeply related to this first-degree murder.

For example, you have seen your girlfriend having a very close time with another guy. The next day, you are waiting for that guy on his way to kill him. This will be categorized as first-degree murder. As you have made the plan to kill the guy the next day and according to your plan, you have waited for him on the way he normally passes by.

There is another legal term called felony murder in many states. First-degree murder falls under this felony murder category if the murder happens as a consequence of committing any felony violence or crimes.

Some major felony crimes include robbery, rape, burglary, arson, kidnapping, and so on. If you commit any of these crimes, and consequently, the victims die, you will be considered a first-degree murderer.

For example, you have gone to rob Maud’s house. While robbing there, there was a fleeting scrimmage between you and Maud, and at one point, you shoot him on the spur of the moment, and he gets killed. This is also a first-degree murder.

How is this proven?

The trial must establish beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant planned and intentionally killed the victim in order to secure a sentence for first-degree murder. Additionally, the accused’s actions must have been an important factor in the murder for the judge or jury to find them guilty.

Difference Between 1st 2nd 3rd Degree Murders and Manslaughter

1st Degree Murder Sentences

Sentences are the most serious and harsh in the case of first-degree murder. In most cases, based on the seriousness of the crime, a first-degree murderer gets the punishment of death. If this does not happen, then the judge announces the lifetime prison of the convict without having any possibility of getting parole.

These sentences a first-degree murderer gets when aggravating factors are strong against his crime. Some major aggravating sentences for first-degree murder include:

  • The convict is charged with other crimes or murders before.
  • The murderer causes this murder while committing other harmful violence such as burglary, rape, kidnapping, etc.
  • The convict murders the victim by poisoning.
  • A gang has committed the murder where the convict is an active gang member.

Aggravating factors lead the murderers to get the punishment of either death or life imprisonment. But if these aggravating factors are not very much strong while judging the crime of a murderer, then the sentences of the murder are less than death.

Most of the time, the jail time ranges from 20 to 25 years in the case of a first-degree murderer when the aggravating factors are less applicable to the convict.

If you want to know more about 1st-degree murder then click here. We have a detailed article on it, and you will know everything apart from the sentences and shot definition of first degree murder.

What is Second Degree Murder?

Second-degree murder is intentional, like first-degree murder, but it does not possess premeditation like first-degree murder. Intentional in the sense that the murderer murders the victim being provoked by his will.

And on the other hand, it is not premeditated in the sense that the murderer makes no afore planning to kill the victim; rather, he just wants to cause serious physical harm to the victim.

For example, you and your friend Peter have fixed a meeting on a particular day in his house. Accordingly, you go there for a visit. But while discussing an issue, you both have engaged in a battle as no one of you are ready to accept other’s decision.

At one point, you take a gun and shoot him. If Peter dies out of your shooting, it is your second-degree murder. Because when you went to his house, you did not make any pre-plan for killing your friend, but when you shot him, you did it intentionally.

This murder basically happens in consequence of the convict’s indifference towards his harmful actions with others. The murderer acts recklessly while treating others because he intentionally does this to cause bodily harm to the victims.

Second degree murder meaning is often compared in comparison to first-degree murder. Unlike first-degree murder, situational or circumstantial evidence is measured here while judging the crime.

Second Degree Murder Sentence in Canada: The Lawyer’s Guide

How is this proven?

Additionally, second-degree murder must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt by the Prosecution. The prosecution must show that the accused was the one who conducted the illegal act, that the illegal act resulted in the victim’s death, and that the accused intended to murder the victim.

2nd Degree Murder Sentences

Although the sentences for second-degree murder is not that much harsh as first-degree murder, it is not something less important. Sentences and penalties are always harsh and painful no matter how much and to what extent they are given. Only the convicts understand how it feels to tolerate the sentence.

No death sentences or life imprisonment is applicable to the convict being charged with second-degree murder. Normally a convict gets 15 years of jail time committing second-degree murder. There might be options for parole or might be not. It depends on the severity of the crime.

Like first-degree murder, second-degree murder also contains some aggravating factors that can increase the sentences of the convict, sometimes to death sentences. The factors involve:

  • Using deadly weapons while committing the murder. Such as guns, knife and many more
  • Incorporating high hatred or brutality to the victim

If these aggravating factors remain strong on the part of the convict, the jurisdiction might take a harsh decision for the convict’s sentence. Best criminal lawyers are helpful saviors for the murderers to lessen up their penalties in case of second-degree murder.

If you want to more about 2nd-degree murders, click here. We have a detailed article from experienced lawyers.

What is 1st, 2nd and 3rd Degree Murders

What is Third Degree Murder?

Now comes the third degree murder. If you go for third-degree murder meaning, you will find that this category of murder that results from the convict’s unintentional condition.

That means the murderer not at all possess any strong will or pre-planning to murder the victim. Rather the murder happens out of the unwanted situation that happened from his serious harmful actions. This murder differs from first and second-degree murders.

For example, you are driving your car recklessly. For your careless driving, if any pedestrian gets hit and died, this is considered third-degree murder.

Third-degree murder is not available in the legal rules of all the states in the world. Only three states mainly include this third-degree murder in their legal speculations—Florida, Pennsylvania, and Minnesota. Most often, manslaughter gets included in third-degree murder in many states, but with certain regulations.

Sometimes, people get confused with the question-is third-degree murder worse than the first? The answer might vary, but most of the time, yes. Third-degree murder is often worse than first-degree murder because it includes manslaughter, which is heinous of all crimes.

Although you do not make any afore planning for the murder like the first, you have done something more furious with the victim in the heat of your passion. That is why, in many countries, people consider it as the most heinous and furious crime.

How is this proven?

Manslaughter is defined as a crime that the accused committed while acting illegally but without intending to kill anyone. It can be difficult to prove the accused’s purpose in court. In many cases where murder may have been charged, a guilty plea to manslaughter is entered instead.

3rd Degree Murder Sentences

It has previously been mentioned that third-degree murder is often worse than first-degree murder. In Canada, third-degree murder is comparable or sometimes an equal crime to manslaughter.

For this third-degree murder or manslaughter, death is the most common sentence prevailing in Canada. Similar to all other murders, if this murder does not contain any aggravating factors or firearms, the jurisdiction can lessen up the penalty depending on the circumstantial evidence. The lessened penalty is jail time for a minimum of 4 to maximum 7 years. There might be parole options for the convict.

Again, if the crime is too much dangerous, meaning the seriousness of the crime is justifiable to less than the death sentence but more than the lessened penalty. Then, observing all the necessary issues, the jurisdiction punishes the convict with jail time for undefined periods of his lifetime. But there is an option for the convict that is only spending 7 years in jail; he can appeal for his parole to the court, but not before 7 years of jail time.

If you want to know more about 3rd-degree murders, we have a complete article on this topic. Apart from the short definition and sentences, we have discuss everything you need to know about it, we have discussed on that article.

Manslaughter vs Murder: The Ultimate Comparison


So, we conclude our discussion here. Hopefully, you have got the answer to your question about what is 1st, 2nd, and 3rd degree murders. You have also learned about the sentences for different degrees of murders in different states. Remember that, either to increase or to decrease the sentences in case of any murders, a professional criminal defense lawyer is a must. He can best fight for the convict in front of the judges.