Murder Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Murder, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Murder?

It refers to the killing or death of a person by another sane person unlawfully and proved to be under no authority to kill or with the intent of killing the other because of malice or revenge. Murders fetch highest of punishments.The foirms of murders are different and described separately in court of law, depending on which they are termed first degree or second degree murders where the punishment level differs. If a death of a person happens after one year of the attack, the attacker cannot be charged for the murder. If the death is intentional and pre planned, it is a first degree murder. It can also be a result of negligence or recklessness, where a heavy bodily harm may or may not be intended, will have less serious impact, though still a serious matter.

History and Meaning of Murder

Murder is the most serious and heinous crime one can commit within any society. It refers to the unlawful killing of a person by another with malice aforethought. The actual definition of murder varies by jurisdiction, but it is generally divided into two types - first-degree and second-degree murder. First-degree murder usually refers to premeditated murder or murder committed during the commission of another crime, while second-degree murder is often used when there is no premeditation or when the defendant did not intend to kill the victim initially.

The concept of murder has been around for centuries and is deeply rooted in the moral and legal codes of most societies. Scholars and philosophers have debated the moral, ethical, and legal implications of murder for centuries, and the definition and punishment for the crime have been in a constant state of flux.

Examples of Murder

  1. First-degree murder: John Doe planned and killed his wife in order to collect life insurance money. He was charged with first-degree murder.
  2. Second-degree murder: Jane Doe killed her husband during a heated argument. Although she did not plan to kill her husband, she acted with reckless disregard to human life and was charged with second-degree murder.
  3. Felony murder: Bob and his friends robbed a convenience store. During the robbery, one of Bob's friends shot and killed the clerk. Even though Bob did not intend to kill the clerk, he was charged with murder under the felony murder rule because he was involved in the commission of a felony that led to death.

Legal Terms Similar to Murder

  1. Manslaughter - the unlawful killing of a person without malice aforethought. Manslaughter charges are often brought when the accused did not intend for the victim to die.
  2. Homicide - the killing of one person by another. This term is often used interchangeably with murder but can also refer to justified killings such as in self-defense.
  3. Justifiable homicide - a killing that is legally justified, such as in self-defense or as a result of a lawful act of war.