Violent crimes: What constitutes first-degree murder in Maryland?

Homicide crimes, in which one individual kills another individual, are classified in varying degrees of severity in the state of Maryland. Murder in the first degree is the highest level homicide crime in the state. Generally speaking, first-degree murder has occurred if the accused individual committed the act intentionally while waiting for his or her victim, by poisoning or by “felony murder.”

The state of Maryland no longer uses the death penalty. Ever since 2013, the worst punishment for first-degree murder involves life imprisonment without the ability to seek parole.

In Maryland, “felony murder” is also classified as a first-degree murder offense. Felony murder happens when another individual is killed while the accused individual was committing a serious violent crime. Serious violent crimes include: sexual assault, battery, kidnapping, burglary, arson, false imprisonment, robbery and carjacking offenses.

Since first-degree murder comes with the most severe punishment possible, those accused of this crime will want to take the defense of their cases and the potential punishments that come with conviction extremely seriously. Punishments related to a first-degree murder conviction include life in prison and life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Those accused of murder in the first degree will want to work with their attorneys in order to develop the best defense available in their cases. In some successfully navigated defenses, accused individuals can obtain a verdict of not guilty. Other defenses might involve an attempt to get the charges reduced to lower level murder charges, like voluntary manslaughter or second-degree murder. By lowering the offense to lesser murder charges, individuals may be able to achieve a reduction in punishment if they are ultimately convicted of the crime.

Source: FindLaw.com, “Maryland First-Degree Murder” accessed Jan. 15, 2015