In the state of Rhode Island, there are several different types of conduct that constitute first-degree murder. One of these, felony murder, has been previously discussed in our blog. Another type of first-degree murder is known as "premeditated murder."
The Elements of First Degree Premeditated Murder
In criminal law, all crimes are broken down into elements. The government must prove each element of an offense before someone can be found guilty under the law. In first-degree premeditated murder, the elements are:
- The unlawful killing of a human being;
- Perpetrated by:
- Lying in wait, or
- Other willful, deliberate, malicious, and premeditated killing.
Generally, premeditation requires a certain amount of planning. The difference between first- and second-degree murder is whether one premeditated the killing or one did not. The facts of each case can be informative.
For example, if someone says, “I'm going to kill my friend Bob!” and then goes to the store, purchases ammunition and a firearm, then drives to Bob's house and shoots him, this is pretty good evidence of premeditation.
On the other hand, if someone and their friend Bob are having a disagreement and there is a loaded firearm within range, and the person impulsively shoots their friend Bob with no prior indication of planning to kill Bob, this may show a lack of premeditation. In this situation, first-degree premeditated murder may not be the appropriate charge.
The Consequences of First-Degree Premeditated Murder
The consequences of first-degree premeditated murder, in most circumstances, is a life sentence. Depending on the circumstances, someone convicted of first-degree premeditated murder may be eligible for parole, in which case, they must serve a minimum of 15 years. This is not to say the sentence will only be 15 years, but rather that one becomes eligible for parole in 15 years. However, in some cases, the person is not eligible for parole and must serve the full life sentence.
There may be some circumstances where an argument could be made that the criminal conduct only constitutes second-degree murder. In that case, the murder charges would be amended to second-degree murder, which requires a sentence of at least ten years in prison. However, the court may impose up to a sentence of life in prison, even for second-degree murder. While the court is permitted to make decisions regarding sentencing, the attorneys are also permitted to negotiate a settlement which may limit the amount of time the accused must serve.
If You Are Facing Criminal Charges
If you are facing criminal charges, you need a criminal defense attorney experienced in handling tough cases. With first-degree premeditated murder charges, understanding the law, including “lesser included offenses,” can be critical to negotiating a settlement agreement.
Kensley Barrett has the legal and litigation skills to fight for you when facing serious charges such as first-degree premeditated murder. Contact the Law Offices of Kensley R. Barrett, Esq. today to set up a free consultation. You can make an appointment on the web or call the office at (401) 380-6724.