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What are the different degrees of murder in Maryland?

On Behalf of | Dec 13, 2022 | Violent crimes

Murder is the most serious possible homicide charge in Maryland. Unlike vehicular homicide, which may involve accidental fatalities caused by drunk driving, or manslaughter, which involves unintentionally causing a death, murder typically involves intentional behavior on the part of the criminal defendant. 

When an action on the part of one individual causes the death of another, Maryland prosecutors may decide to bring murder charges against the defendant. What is the difference between the different degrees of murder in Maryland? 

First-degree murder is the most serious charge

If a prosecutor brings a charge of first-degree murder against someone, they allege that the defendant intentionally committed a premeditated murder. The state can also charge someone with first-degree murder when they do something that costs someone their life during the commission of another crime. 

Arson, poison and armed carjacking are among the scenarios that would lead to first-degree murder charges. A conviction of first-degree murder will usually lead to life in prison, possibly without the option of parole in the future. 

Any situation that does not meet the relatively rigorous standards established in the first-degree murder statute will likely result in second-degree murder charges instead. The state can sentence someone to up to 30 years in custody over a second-degree murder charge. 

When the state may not know for certain someone’s intent or whether there was advance planning involved, second-degree murder charges may be a more reasonable option than first-degree murder allegations. Learning the basics about the different kinds of murder charges in Maryland will help those accused of hurting someone else plan a more effective defense strategy.