Anyone found guilty of murder or manslaughter faces severe penalties, usually several years in prison. Homicide is understood as the act of killing a person involuntarily, while murder consists of killing a person with the fulfillment of some requirements: being disloyal, cruel or wanting a reward for killing a person.

Follow this article to learn what is 1st, 2nd, and 3rd-degree murder and the terms and penalties associated with each degree.

Both homicide and murder have different modalities, that is, various degrees of culpability.

The concept of disloyalty is the key to determining whether the act of killing is homicide or murder.

In a criminal action disloyalty occurs when the delinquent acts against the other in a totally intentional way. Thus, when a person kills another in the back using a firearm, it is a disloyal murder. Obviously, this becomes an aggravating factor when judging the criminal’s conduct .

the first degree

A murder is normally assigned this classification when it knows with certainty that its behavior will result in the death of a person. For this reason, it is considered that murder is premeditated, that is, someone intends to kill and acts with full awareness of it.

As a general criterion , cases of poisoning or strangulation are the most typical of this modality, since such actions imply a deliberate attitude on the part of the accused.

the second degree

Unlike first-degree murder, second-degree murder occurs when there is no premeditated plan associated with the killing. This criminal category occurs in cases where an individual dies as a result of recklessness.

When an individual hits another and the latter finally dies, the aggressor’s action can be considered involuntary homicide as long as it is demonstrated that there was no intention to kill and that the death was the result of an accident.

the third grade

The death of one or more persons is classified as third-degree murder when the person responsible for the death acted irresponsibly or recklessly. Consequently, the law punishes the lack of care and common sense of the person who caused the death of the other.

This degree is quite common in cases where a driver runs over a pedestrian as a result of irresponsible driving.

Homicide in self-defense

When a person kills another in defense of his own life, this action is considered justifiable and for this reason is called self-defense.

This legal figure is universal and is based on the conservation instinct of human beings.


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