first degree murder – willful, deliberate, or premeditated murder, or murder committed during the course of another dangerous felony

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first-degree murder:

1. Murder that is willful, deliberate, or premeditated, or that is committed during the course of another dangerous felony.  *  All murder perpetrated by poisoning or by lying in wait is considered first-degree murder.  All types of murder not involving willful, deliberate, and premeditated killing are usually considered second-degree murder. — aka murder of the first degree; murder one. [1]

1. Murder with malice aforethought, the unique characteristic of which is deliberation or premeditation, a design or purpose to take life. 26 Am J1st Homi § 38. [2]

1. Murder committed deliberately with malice aforethought, that is, with premeditation. [3]

Types of First Degree Murder:

felony murder – occurs during the commission of a dangerous felony (often limited to rape, kidnapping, robbery, burglary, and arson). — aka unintentional murder; (in English law) constructive murder.

  • felony-murder rule – a death which occurs by accident or chance during the course of the commission of a felony is first degree murder.

murder by torture – murder preceded by intentional infliction of pain and suffering on the victim.


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[1]: Black’s Law Dictionary Deluxe Tenth Edition by Henry Campbell Black & Editor in Chief Bryan A. Garner. ISBN: 978-0-314-62130-6

[2]: Ballantine’s Law Dictionary with Pronunciations
Third Edition
 by James A. Ballantine (James Arthur 1871-1949).  Edited by William S. Anderson.  © 1969 by THE LAWYER’S CO-OPERATIVE PUBLISHING COMPANY.  Library of Congress Catalog Card No. 68-30931

[3]:  Ballantine’s Law Dictionary Legal Assistant Edition
by Jack Ballantine 
(James Arthur 1871-1949).  Doctored by Jack G. Handler, J.D. © 1994 Delmar by Thomson Learning.  ISBN 0-8273-4874-6.


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