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Definition of Murder

Murder is the illegal killing of another person with intent to kill. Under current law murder is classified as murder in the first (premeditation) or murder in the second (sudden and instantaneous intent to kill). Murder differs from manslaughter whereby a person kills someone without intent or malice.

State laws vary, but generally murder in the first degree is punished by the death penalty or imprisonment for life. Some states do not have death penalties. Murder in the first degree is premeditated, willful and deliberate and is done while committing a variety of crimes such as arson, criminal sexual conduct in the first, second, or third degree, child abuse in the first degree, robbery, carjacking, breaking and entering of a dwelling, home invasion in the first or second degree, larceny of any kind, extortion, and kidnapping. Convicts who murder a police officer while they are engaged in performance of their duties are also charged with first degree murder.

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