A crime is said to have occurred if someone violates the law by neglect, an overt act or omission resulting in punishment. A person who breaches a particular rule or violates a certain law is charged with a criminal offense (Hattis 18). Crimes in the US are broadly categorized as property crimes or violent crimes. A property crime occurs when someone destroys, steals or damages another person’s property. In fact, they are the most rampant crimes in the United States. Violent crimes, on the other hand, occur when a person harms another or even attempts, threatens or conspires to harm another person. Violent crime offenses often involve force or even force threats such as homicide, rape, or robbery (Hattis 21). However, some crimes can be categorized as both violent and property crimes such as robbing someone’s car at gunpoint. This essay analyzes murder crime at length highlighting what constitutes murder in the United States. Furthermore, it outlines the various levels of murder as well as charges associated with murder.
Murder refers to willfully taking the life of another person. It is a serious crime that permanently deprives someone of existence as well as causing a huge loss to the family of the victim. The American law classifies murder as either first or second degree. The first-degree murder occurs when someone intentionally or with malice aforethought kills another person. For killing to qualify as first-degree, it must meet certain elements including deliberation, premeditation, and willfulness to take away the life of another person (Hattis 33). However, some states do not require the proof of all the three elements to classify the killing as first-degree. In fact, some states regard other methods of killing as first-degree like imprisonmentleading to death, torturing resulting to death, and other heinous acts that directly result to death.The death penalty is the ultimate punishment for the first-degree murder in most states. However, some states apply a dual system where the sentence may or may not include the possibility of parole.
The second-degree murder occurs if the killing was not premeditated even though it is intentional. It also occurs when a person kills another through reckless behavior that shows no concern the human life.Most murder cases fall under the second-degree category as most killers do not have an initial plan to kill even though the killing is intentional (Hattis 37). The sentence for second-degree murder varies from eighteen years to life term depending on the mitigating or the aggravating factors. Most states apply the Federal Sentencing Guidelines which serve as the reference point for determining the average sentence for murder criminals.
Additionally, most states acknowledge and apply the Felony Murder Rule in most murder cases. For instance, if Tom and Janet jointly own a restaurant and one of their employees’ shoots and kills Janet, Tom can be charged with first-degree murder under the felony murder although he did not shoot Janet. Other states only require the murder perpetrator to have acted with an ill will to be charged with first-degree murder (Hattis 39). Such states hold that malice is distinct from premeditation, deliberation, and willfulness. It follows that perpetrators of murder are charged with different levels of murder, which depends on laws of a particular jurisdiction. Overall, murder is a serious crime that deserves the harshest punishment on the land as it inflicts a huge amount of grief to the victim’s loved ones.
Hattis, Shana H. Crime in the United States 2013. Lanham, Maryland: Bernan Press, 2013. Print.