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FINDLAW LEGAL DICTIONARY

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Murder

murder n

[partly from Old English morthor; partly from Old French murdre, of Germanic origin]
: the crime of unlawfully and unjustifiably killing another under circumstances defined by statute (as with premeditation)
;esp
: such a crime committed purposely, knowingly, and recklessly with extreme indifference to human life or during the course of a serious felony (as robbery or rape) compare cold blood, cooling time, homicide, manslaughter NOTE: Self-defense, necessity, and lack of capacity for criminal responsibility (as because of insanity) are defenses to a charge of murder. Most state statutes and the U.S. Code divide murder into two degrees. Florida, Minnesota, and Pennsylvania currently have three degrees of murder. Some states do not assign degrees of murder.

de·praved-heart murder
[di-prāvd-hÄ rt-]
: a murder that is the result of an act which is dangerous to others and shows that the perpetrator has a depraved mind and no regard for human life NOTE: Depraved-heart murder is usually considered second- or third-degree murder.

felony murder
: a murder that occurs in the commission of a serious felony (as burglary or sexual battery) compare misdemeanor-manslaughter at manslaughter NOTE: Felony murder is usually considered first-degree murder. Felony murder does not require specific intent to kill, and an accessory to the felony may also be charged with the murder.

first-degree murder
: a murder that is committed with premeditation or during the course of a serious felony (as kidnapping) or that otherwise (as because of extreme cruelty) requires the most serious punishment under the law

second-degree murder
: a murder that is committed without premeditation but with some intent (as general or transferred intent) or other circumstances not covered by the first-degree murder statute

third-degree murder
: a murder that is not first- or second-degree murder: as
a : a murder committed in the perpetration of a felony not listed in the first-degree murder statute
b : depraved-heart murder in this entry
vt : to kill (a human being) unlawfully and under circumstances constituting murder
vi
: to commit murder



Source: Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of Law ©1996. Merriam-Webster, Incorporated. Published under license with Merriam-Webster, Incorporated.