What is capital murder charge? How it is different from murder charges?

A murder can be one of the serious offenses someone could ever commit. When it comes to punishment, however, all the laws consider them heinous, but they are castigated differently.

In most state laws, there are different laws that segregate this criminal act depending on the severity of the crime. In addition to that, they are sub-divided into felony, first-degree, and second-degree murder penalties. But when a murder turns into capital murder and what is capital murder? Let’s clear up things in the next part of the article.

What is murder?

Contrary to people’s belief, murder happens not just by killing a person. There are more than one conditions where someone could be charged for a murder offense. In more than ten states in the USA, if someone is charged with murder, states do not differentiate between first and second-degree charges while sentencing.

One of the most obvious types of murder is the knowledgeable and intentional form of killing someone. Another form of killing contains the fact that a defendant can be convicted guilty for murder if he intentionally causes someone bodily injuries that are dangerous enough that could take their life.

For instance, if a defendant claims in his defense that he fired on the victim just to wound them and not to take their life. There could be some pieces of evidence that supported the claim, making it a truth. The jury would still charge them guilty as the defendant intended to do serious harm, and shooting with a firearm over someone itself a criminal act that does not require an intent to kill.

The third type of killing that results in murder charges refer to the act of extremely dangerous act of felony where the death of individuals can clearly happen. For example, let’s assume a bank robbery where a robber keeps a gun with no intention to kill anyone or during a gateway where a rider drives at a highly dangerous speed that can result in serious injuries and sometimes death.

Keep in mind that there’s a difference between murder and capital murder charges, which will be explained later in the article.

What is capital murder?

A murder charge is said to be a capital murder offense when the killing has occurred in explicit conditions. According to Penal Code 19.03 (a), a person would be convicted for capital punishment if the murder is committed in scenarios where:

  • An individual murders a fireman or a peace officer on duty knowing that he is an on-duty fireman or a peace officer.
  • The killing happens on the commission of any of these felonies like; burglary, kidnapping, arson, aggravated sexual assault, terroristic threat, retaliation or obstruction
  • The killing happens in a promise for payment or commitment for payment. Both persons who kill one another or hire someone to kill the other person would be guilty of capital punishment.
  • Killing happens during escaping from the penalizing institution
  • Killing happens when an incarcerated person kills an on-duty officer at the penal institution.
  • Killing happens when the commission of the crime in conjunction with an organized criminal activity
  • The killing is committed through an incarcerated person as a result of aggravated activity such as aggravated sexual assault, aggravated robbery, aggravated kidnapping, etc.
  • A person kills more than one person during the commission of a criminal act or within different events of the criminal activities following a common procedure.
  • The victim of the killing is under 10 years of age.
  • The victim of killing is justice or a judge that was killed due to serving his duty as a judge.

Penalties for a capital murder charge

As there are multiple levels of criminal offense that constitute a capital murder offense. The capital murder charge is referred to as the most serious crime and the felony is the less serious crime in terms of criminal law. Here’s what you should look for when understanding these charges;

First-degree murder

First-degree killing involves the intimidation of a person. For instance, a woman poisoned her husband. As the crime was planned by the defendant and she intentionally killed the victim, the crime would be charged as first-degree murder.

Second-degree murder

Second-degree killing constitutes an impulsive murder of another person. For example, two persons argue at the bar and after an intense argument, one person hits the wine bottle on the head of another person which later causes his death. Because the commission of this criminal act was not premeditated and happened at an impulse. It will be charged as second-degree murder.

Felony charges for a murder

Felony charges are subjected to the crimes when they are committed while the commission of another crime. An example of this would be killing a security guard during a bank robbery. If the defendants were involved in a bank robbery and unintentionally killed the guard, they would be charged with felony charges as the intent of killing was not there, the main purpose of crime robbing.

To figure out the difference between capital murder, murder, manslaughter, and homicide charges, refer to this comprehensive list of crimes.

A capital murder charge is imposed when:

  • A murder happens during aggravated crimes such as
    • Aggravated sexual assault
    • Burglary
    • Arson
    • Terroristic activity
    • Retaliation
    • Remuneration on account of hiring someone for murder
    • Killing while incarcerated and escaping
    • Aggravated robbery
    • Killing under 10 y/o victim
    • Killing fireman or an officer on or off duty
    • Killings in multiple events

A murder charge is imposed when

  • Knowingly and intentionally caused the death
  • Intention to cause dangerous injuries
  • Attempting or committing a felony that results in murder
  • Attempting or committing dangerous acts that threatens human life

A manslaughter charge is imposed when

  • A person unintentionally kills an individual

Criminal negligent homicide charges happen when

  • Criminal negligence found towards a victim that causes death later on.

Penalties associated with murder and capital murder charges

Penalties for murder may vary across states depending on the severity of the crime and the associated charges. However, a capital murder charge entails a life sentence without the option of a parole or plea bargain in almost all the states.

For murder, the punishment can range between 5 and 99 years of prison or a life sentence. If the defendant manages to prove whether he caused the death intentionally or raises the issue for immediate influence, it may reduce the charge up to 2-22 years. But of course, it will depend on the court’s discretion and the second-degree criminal laws. Murder and manslaughter charges come under second-degree charges. The penalties for both will be sentenced once the jury determines the offense.

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