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How is second-degree murder different from similar charges?

On Behalf of | Jun 15, 2024 | Violent crimes

There’s often some confusion over different homicide charges. For one thing, people will assume that homicide and first-degree murder are the same. But there are actually many types of homicide charges that may apply differently from case to case. Every case is unique and deserves a unique defense. 

Specifically, there’s a charge in Maryland known as second-degree murder. How is this different from similar charges, such as first-degree murder or manslaughter?

How it differs from first-degree

For first-degree murder, the person typically has to plan the event in advance. They must have the intent to take someone else’s life. Usually, the authorities are looking for evidence that the event was premeditated and then carried out on purpose. This is the most significant homicide charge someone can face and could result in everything up to life in prison.

How it differs from manslaughter 

Manslaughter is similar to second-degree murder in that it wasn’t planned or done intentionally. But there are other factors showing that this isn’t how the accused person would normally act. For instance, perhaps they just reacted in the “heat of passion” and did something surprising and out of character. It is still illegal to take someone’s life, but this is much different than doing so intentionally.

Legal defense options

For those who are facing these types of charges, the ramifications can be very different between the various classes. It’s quite important to understand exactly what charges you’re facing and what criminal defense options you have at your disposal. In some cases, this could include trying to plead down to accept lesser charges.