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First-Degree Premeditated Murder in Rhode Island

Posted by Ken Barrett | Jul 26, 2018 | 0 Comments

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:
    • Poison,
    • 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.

About the Author

Ken Barrett

Attorney Kensley Barrett is a skilled criminal defense lawyer with a proven track record in handling a wide range of cases in Rhode Island. Known for his strong background in trial advocacy and negotiation, Barrett is dedicated to providing personalized and effective representation for his clients. Recognized as a "Rising Star" by Super Lawyers and with a 10.0 "Superb" rating on Avvo, he consistently achieves successful outcomes, including acquittals, dismissals, and reduced charges.


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Kensley Barrett

Our law firm was founded on the belief that working with us is more than just hiring a lawyer. Working with us will bring you peace of mind and also allow you to continue with your regular life while we attend to your legal matters. Our vast experience means that it allows us to excel in both aggressively representing your interests and generating the best possible result for you.