Some may argue that there are more heinous crimes out there, but murder is one of the few crimes that results in the death of another individual. Similar to assault and battery, murder has a few degrees based on the nature and the intent of the individual committing the crime. In Minnesota, there are three degrees of murder, simply referred to as:
- First-degree murder
- Second-degree murder
- Third-degree murder
Degrees of Murder in Minnesota
The two biggest factors influencing the degree of a murder charge are intent and premeditation. Intent is whether or not a reasonable person can expect that their actions will result in the loss of someone’s life, and premeditation occurs when a person plans the murder instead of acting in the heat of the moment. Simply put, a first-degree murder requires intent and premeditation, a second-degree murder requires intent but does not involve premeditation, while third-degree murder does not require intent or premeditation.
You can probably picture scenarios for both first-degree and second-degree murders, but you might be wondering how a person can commit murder without forethought or intent. By definition, third-degree murder occurs when a person “without intent to effect the death of any person, causes the death of another by perpetrating an act eminently dangerous to others and evincing a depraved mind, without regard for human life.” For example, selling or giving drugs to a person who later dies as a direct result of taking those drugs can result in charges of third-degree murder in Minnesota.
Murder Penalties in Minnesota
As one might expect, Minnesota does not take murder charges lightly. In fact, Minnesota has enacted what are known as “Mandatory Minimum” sentences for individuals convicted of first-degree murder.
Under the Mandatory Minimum sentencing guideline, a person found guilty of murder in the first degree will receive a life sentence without the possibility of parole. Some crimes that are punishable by a first-degree murder charge include:
- Rape murder
- Murder of a law enforcement officer
- Murder in the act of kidnapping
- Murder in the course of a felony crime
A person found guilty of murder in the second degree faces the possibility of up to 40 years in prison. Anyone found guilty of murder in the third degree can face up to 25 years in prison. Under the Mandatory Minimum sentencing guideline, the court must impose the maximum possible sentence for anyone found guilty of second- or third-degree murder if the individual has committed another “heinous crime” within the last 15 years.
Apple Valley Criminal Attorney
If you’re facing the possibility of living the rest of your life in a prison cell, hiring an experienced murder attorney is essential. Your attorney will review all the facts and make sure you understand your options. Don’t go through the trial of your life alone, speak to the Apple Valley criminal attorneys at Appelman Law Firm.