What is first degree murder?

Updated For 2021

Like many Arizona residents, you may be aware that a charge for a criminal offense may be identified by different degrees such a first degree, second degree or third degree. When it comes to a charge of murder, do you really understand what first degree murder means or what acts might result in a person being accused of this level of crime? If you or someone you know is accused of first degree murder, it can be important to know this.

As explained by the Arizona legislature, first degree murder is a class 1 felony. Anyone convicted of this crime may be sentenced to life in prison or to death. In addition to taking premeditated actions that would knowingly or intentionally cause the death of another person, other factors can contribute to this charge. A defendant might be accused of first degree murder if a person dies during the course of other alleged actions. These include certain drug crimes, sexual assault, arson, burglary, robbery and more.

The death of an unborn child at any point in the gestation period may also lead a person to be accused of first degree murder. Some exceptions here apply including if the person was legally performing an abortion under the consent of the mother, providing medical care to the unborn child or the mother or was the actual mother.

This information is not intended to provide legal advice but is instead meant to give Arizona residents an overview of what can lead to a charge of first degree murder under Arizona state law.


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