North Carolina has varying laws regarding a wide range of crimes. Perhaps the most serious of these are crimes about killing a person. However, before talking about first degree murder, it may be important to get a refresher on terms it may be confused with, such as “homicide” and “manslaughter.”
Homicide is the legal terminology used to describe the killing of a person by another person. It is not always a crime as there are “justifiable” homicide cases, like those done in self-defense. However, when a homicide is unlawful, they are either murder or manslaughter.
Manslaughter is basically third-degree murder. It is an illegal killing that does not contain malice or forethought, which means it has decreased moral blame. Voluntary manslaughter occurs if an individual is provoked, and therefore killed another person “in the heat of the moment.” Involuntary manslaughter occurs when the killing is not done intentionally, and is considered a much-less serious crime.
However, it is a different thing entirely when talking about first-degree murder. This is a premeditated murder. In North Carolina, convicted individuals may be sentenced to life imprisonment or worse, the lethal injection. This is because first-degree murder is actually a Class A felony, which puts it at the highest level of all felonies under North Carolina’s classification.
What is First Degree Murder?
First degree murder is causing the death of another person in these manners:
- By means of a weapon of mass destruction;
- By poison, lying in wait, imprisonment, starving, torture, or by any other kind of willful, deliberate, and premeditated killing;
- In the perpetration or attempted perpetration of any arson, rape or a sex offense, robbery, kidnapping, burglary, or other felony committed or attempted with the use of a deadly weapon.
Defenses for First Degree Murder
However, there are of course defenses available when faced with first degree murder charges. The most popular defenses involve cases of self-defense or mistaken identity with help of criminal defense attorney. Sometimes, some first degree murders may actually occur in heat of passion, which may lower the sentence to voluntary manslaughter. In very rare cases, the offender may actually be innocent.
Those who would like to know more about the specifics of crimes in North Carolina may contact lawyers and legal experts from nearby courts for consultations.