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Murder

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

For other uses, see Murder (disambiguation).


"Murderer" and "Double murder" redirect here. For the film, see Double Murder. For other uses,
see Murderer (disambiguation).
It has been suggested that Premeditated murder be merged into this article. (Discuss) Proposed since August 2015.

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Murder is the killing of another person without justification or valid excuse, and it is especially the
unlawful killing of another person with malice aforethought. This state of mind may, depending
[1][2][3]

upon the jurisdiction, distinguish murder from other forms of unlawful homicide, such
as manslaughter. In some U.S. states, laws regarding murder are determined by the Model Penal
Code.
[4]

Most societies, from ancient to modern, have considered murder a very serious crime deserving
harsh punishment for purposes of retribution, deterrence, rehabilitation, or incapacitation. There are
many reasons why murder has been criminalized, including its costs to society as well as being
considered intrinsically wrong. For example, murder may be considered intrinsically wrong because
it violates a right to life, or objectifies the victim, or is oppressive; murder may be costly to society by
undermining law and order, by squandering potential accomplishments of the victims, by
risking escalation of violence, or by spreading fear and grief.
[5]

[5]

In most countries, a person convicted of murder is typically given a long prison sentence, possibly
a life sentence where permitted. In some countries, the death penalty may be imposed for such an
act though this practice is becoming less common.
[6]

Contents
[hide]

1 Etymology

2 Definition

2.1 Degrees of murder

2.2 Common law

2.3 Exclusions

2.3.1 General

2.3.2 Specific to certain countries

2.4 Victim

2.5 Mitigating circumstances

2.5.1 Insanity

2.5.2 Post-partum depression

2.5.3 Unintentional

2.5.4 Diminished capacity

2.6 Aggravating circumstances

2.7 Year-and-a-day rule

3 Historical attitudes

4 Incidence

4.1 Murder rates by country

4.2 History of murder rates

5 See also

6 References

7 Bibliography

8 External links

Etymology[edit]
The modern English word "murder" descends from the Proto-Indo-European "mrtr" which meant "to
die". The Middle English mordre is a noun from Anglo-Saxon moror and Old French murdre.
Middle English mordreis a verb from Anglo-Saxon myrdrian and the Middle English noun.
[7]

[8]

Definition[edit]
The eighteenth-century English jurist William Blackstone (citing Edward Coke), in his Commentaries
on the Laws of England set out the common law definition of murder, which by this definition occurs
when a person, of sound memory and discretion, unlawfully kills any reasonable creature in being
and under the king's peace, with malice aforethought, either express or implied.
[9]

The elements of common law murder are:


1. Unlawful
2. killing
3. of a human
4. by another human
5. with malice aforethought.

[10]

The Unlawful This distinguishes murder from killings that are done within the boundaries of law,
such as capital punishment, justified self-defense, or the killing of enemy combatants by lawful
combatants as well as causing collateral damage to non-combatants during a war.
[11]

Killing At common law life ended with cardiopulmonary arrest the total and permanent
cessation of blood circulation and respiration. With advances in medical technology courts have
adopted irreversible cessation of all brain function as marking the end of life.
[10]

[10]

[10]

of a human This element presents the issue of when life begins. At common law, a fetus was not a
human being. Life began when the fetus passed through the vagina and took its first breath.
[12]

[10]

by another human In early common law, suicide was considered murder. The requirement that
the person killed be someone other than the perpetrator excluded suicide from the definition of
murder.
[10]

with malice aforethought Originally malice aforethought carried its everyday meaning a
deliberate and premeditated (prior intent) killing of another motivated by ill will. Murder necessarily
required that an appreciable time pass between the formation and execution of the intent to kill. The
courts broadened the scope of murder by eliminating the requirement of actual premeditation and
deliberation as well as true malice. All that was required for malice aforethought to exist is that the
perpetrator act with one of the four states of mind that constitutes "malice."
The four states of mind recognized as constituting "malice" are:

[13]

i.

Intent to kill,

ii.

Intent to inflict grievous bodily harm short of death,

iii.

Reckless indifference to an unjustifiably high risk to human life (sometimes described as an


"abandoned and malignant heart"), or

iv.

Intent to commit a dangerous felony (the "felony murder" doctrine).

Under state of mind (i), intent to kill, the deadly weapon rule applies. Thus, if the defendant
intentionally uses a deadly weapon or instrument against the victim, such use authorizes a
permissive inference of intent to kill. In other words, "intent follows the bullet." Examples of deadly
weapons and instruments include but are not limited to guns, knives, deadly toxins or chemicals or
gases and even vehicles when intentionally used to harm one or more victims.
Under state of mind (iii), an "abandoned and malignant heart", the killing must result from the
defendant's conduct involving a reckless indifference to human life and a conscious disregard of an
unreasonable risk of death or serious bodily injury. An example of this is a 2007 law
in California where an individual could be convicted of third-degree murder if he or she kills another
person while driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs, orcontrolled substances. In Australian
jurisdictions, the unreasonable risk must amount to a foreseen probability of death (or grievous
bodily harm in most states), as opposed to possibility.
[14]

Under state of mind (iv), the felony-murder doctrine, the felony committed must be an inherently
dangerous felony, such as burglary, arson, rape, robbery or kidnapping. Importantly, the underlying
felony cannot be alesser included offense such as assault, otherwise all criminal homicides would be
murder as all are felonies.
As with most legal terms, the precise definition of murder varies between jurisdictions and is usually
codified in some form of legislation. Even when the legal distinction between murder and
manslaughter is clear, it is not unknown for a jury to find a murder defendant guilty of the lesser
offence. The jury might sympathise with the defendant (e.g. in a crime of passion, or in the case of a
bullied victim who kills their tormentor), and the jury may wish to protect the defendant from a
sentence of life imprisonment or execution.