Dictionary of Law

murder :: legal definition

Murder - n. the killing of a human being by a sane person, with intent, malice aforethought (prior intention to kill the particular victim or anyone who gets in the way) and with no legal excuse or authority. In those clear circumstances, this is first degree murder. By statute, many states consider a killing in which there is torture, movement of the person before the killing (kidnapping) or the death of a police officer or prison guard, or it was as an incident to another crime (as during a hold-up or rape), to be first degree murder, with or without premeditation and with malice presumed. Second degree murder is such a killing without premeditation, as in the heat of passion or in a sudden quarrel or fight. Malice in second degree murder may be implied from a death due to the reckless lack of concern for the life of others (such as firing a gun into a crowd or bashing someone with any deadly weapon). Depending on the circumstances and state laws, murder in the first or second degree may be chargeable to a person who did not actually kill, but was involved in a crime with a partner who actually did the killing or someone died as the result of the crime. Example: In a liquor store stick-up in which the clerk shoots back at the hold-up man and kills a bystander, the armed robber can be convicted of at least second degree murder. A charge of murder requires that the victim must die within a year of the attack. Death of an unborn child who is "quick" (fetus is moving) can be murder, provided there was premeditation, malice and no legal authority. Thus, abortion is not murder under the law. Example: Jack Violent shoots his pregnant girlfriend, killing the fetus. Manslaughter, both voluntary and involuntary, lacks the element of malice aforethought.

See also: first degree murder homicide malice aforethought manslaughter premeditation second degree murder and Related Law Terms ↓

Related Law Terms

abduction :: n. the criminal taking away of a person by persuas ... g of children. See also: kidnapping
abeyance :: 1) n. when the owner- ship of property has not bee ... 2) legal jargon for "undetermined."
abuse of discretion :: n. a polite way of saying a trial judge has made s ... partner's realistic ability to pay.
account stated :: n. a statement between a creditor or the person to ... ending on the state. See also: debt
acknowledgment :: n. the section at the end of a document where a no ... me leases and various other papers.
actual controversy :: n. a true legal dispute which leads to a genuine l ... al outcome. See also: friendly suit
ad litem :: adj. legal Latin meaning "for the purposes of the ... of age. See also: guardian ad litem
administrator :: n. the person appointed by the court to handle the ... e also: administer executor probate
adultery :: n. consensual sexual relations when one of the par ... s and grist for scandal newspapers.
advancement :: n. a gift made by a person to one of his or her ch ... tate gift in contemplation of death
advisory opinion :: n. an opinion stated by a judge or a court upon th ... o: actual controversy friendly suit
apparent authority :: n. the appearance of being the agent of another (e ... e also: agency ostensible authority
appeal :: 1) v. to ask a higher court to reverse the decisio ... ng, as in "he has filed an appeal."
arrest :: v. 1) to take or hold a suspected criminal with le ... anda warning probable cause warrant
articles of incorporation :: n. the basic charter of a corporation which spells ... year's taxes. See also: corporation
attempt :: v. and n. to actually try to commit a crime and ha ... felt he tried but did not succeed.
attorney :: n. 1) an agent or someone authorized to act for an ... ialize. See also: court reciprocity
Attorney General :: n. in each state and the federal government the hi ... izenry. See also: Solicitor General
bankruptcy :: n. a federal system of statutes and courts which p ... y proceedings trustee in bankruptcy
basis :: n. the original cost of an asset to be used to det ... ssistance. See also: adjusted basis
battery :: n. the actual intentional striking of someone, wit ... e also: assault assault and battery
Bill of Rights :: n. the first ten amendments to the federal Constit ... ved to the states or to the people.
brief :: 1) n. a written legal argument, usually in a forma ... another person. See also: precedent
capital offense :: n. any criminal charge which is punishable by the ... . See also: bail capital punishment
chattel mortgage :: n. an outmoded written document which made a chatt ... ed by the property. See also: UCC-1
child custody :: n. a court's determination of which parent, relati ... pport custody divorce joint custody
citation :: n. 1) a notice to appear in court due to the proba ... se is not in point." See also: cite
civil :: adj. 1) that part of the law that encompasses busi ... also: civil liberties civil rights
civil law :: n. 1) a body of laws and legal concepts which come ... generic term for non-criminal law.
claim against an estate :: n. upon the death of a person and beginning of pro ... ade to the heirs. See also: probate
comity :: n. when one court defers to the jurisdiction of an ... of cases to which comity may apply.
complaint :: n. the first document filed with the court (actual ... g prayer service of process summons
constitutional rights :: n. rights given or reserved to the people by the U ... e also: Bill of Rights constitution
constructive notice :: n. a fiction that a person got notice even though ... personally. See also: constructive
corporation :: n. an organization formed with state governmental ... ation public corporation securities
court :: n. 1) the judge, as in "The court rules in favor o ... cost and wait of full court trials.
crime of passion :: n. a defendant's excuse for committing a crime due ... dant. See also: manslaughter murder
d.b.a. :: n. short for "doing business as," when a person or ... that is registered with the state.
damages :: n. the amount of money which a plaintiff (the pers ... liquidated damages special damages
demurrer :: n. (dee-muhr-ur) a written response to a complaint ... demurrer. See also: motion pleading
descent :: n. the rules of inheritance established by law in ... on inheritance intestate succession
diminished capacity :: n. essentially a psychological term which has foun ... See also: insanity M'Naughten rule
disinherit :: v. to intentionally take actions to guarantee that ... rorem clause pretermitted heir will
domicile :: n. the place where a person has his/her permanent ... where its headquarters is located.
double jeopardy :: n. placing someone on trial a second time for an o ... that occurred thirty years earlier.
equal opportunity :: 1) n. a right supposedly guaranteed by both federa ... be so. See also: affirmative action
equal protection of the law :: n. the right of all persons to have the same acces ... laws." See also: due process of law
equitable estoppel :: n. where a court will not grant a judgment or othe ... also: clean hands doctrine estoppel
estoppel :: n. a bar or impediment (obstruction) which preclud ... pel equitable estoppel estop laches
executed :: 1) adj. to have been completed. (Example: "it is a ... a death sentence. See also: execute
extradition :: n. the surrender by one state or country of a pers ... ty. See also: fugitive from justice
fair comment :: n. a statement of opinion (no matter how ludicrous ... amation libel public figure slander
false arrest :: n. physically detaining someone without the legal ... sment. See also: false imprisonment
felony :: n. 1) a crime sufficiently serious to be punishabl ... ion. See also: misdemeanor sentence
felony murder doctrine :: n. a rule of criminal statutes that any death whic ... arged with murder. See also: murder
first degree murder :: n. although it varies from state to state, it is g ... aughter murder second degree murder
fraud :: n. the intentional use of deceit, a trick or some ... audulent conveyance intrinsic fraud
fugitive from justice :: n. a person convicted or accused of a crime who hi ... extradition. See also: extradition
gift in contemplation of death :: n. (called a gift causa mortis by lawyers showing ... ift tax unified estate and gift tax
grace period :: n. a time stated in a contract in which a late pay ... the contract, i.e. your insurance.
grand larceny :: n. the crime of theft of another's property (inclu ... f the loot. See also: larceny theft
hearsay rule :: n. the basic rule that testimony or documents whic ... interest dying declaration hearsay
heat of passion :: n. in a criminal case, when the accused was in an ... oing. See also: manslaughter murder
homicide :: n. the killing of a human being due to the act or ... aughter murder self-defense suicide
impute :: v. 1) to attach to a person responsibility (and th ... also. See also: vicarious liability
incest :: n. sexual intercourse between close blood relative ... ily genes carrying such weaknesses.
indictment :: n. a charge of a felony (serious crime) voted by a ... ictable offense preliminary hearing
insanity :: n. mental illness of such a severe nature that a p ... M'Naughten rule temporary insanity
intoxication :: n. 1) the condition of being drunk as the result o ... r. See also: vehicular manslaughter
judge :: 1) n. an official with the authority and responsib ... ice justice of the peace magistrate
jurisdiction :: n. the authority given by law to a court to try ca ... Superior Court Supreme Court venue
juvenile delinquent :: n. a person who is under age (usually below 18), w ... low as 14. See also: juvenile court
kidnapping :: (also spelled kidnaping) n. the taking of a person ... but now applies to adults as well.
lapse :: 1) v. to fail to occur, particularly a gift made i ... eficiary devisee legatee trust will
law :: n. 1) any system of regulations to govern the cond ... um maritime law natural law statute
law book :: n. any of numerous volumes dealing with law, inclu ... : common law law Shepardize statute
lawsuit :: n. a common term for a legal action by one person ... See also: case cause of action suit
legal age :: n. the age at which a person is responsible for hi ... so: infancy juvenile court minority
legal aid society :: n. an organization formed to assist persons who ha ... bar association. See also: pro bono
lesser-included offense :: n. in criminal law, a crime which is proved by the ... g jail time. See also: plea bargain
liability :: n. one of the most significant words in the field ... bility joint tortfeasors negligence
libel :: 1) n. to publish in print (including pictures), wr ... libel per se public figure slander
life estate :: n. the right to use or occupy real property for on ... hter, Sadie, will own the property.
life without possibility of parole :: n. a sentence sometimes given for particularly vic ... or may someday reduce the sentence.
lineup :: n. a law enforcement method used in an attempt to ... entification is precarious at best.
litigious :: adj. referring to a person who constantly brings o ... e called "professional plaintiffs."
living trust :: n. sometimes called an inter vivos (Latin for "wit ... thrift clause trust trustee trustor
living will :: n. also called "a durable power of attorney," it i ... upport. See also: power of attorney
malice :: n. a conscious, intentional wrongdoing either of a ... cution murder public figure slander
malice aforethought :: n. 1) the conscious intent to cause death or great ... : first degree murder malice murder
manslaughter :: n. the unlawful killing of another person without ... laughter. See also: homicide murder
marriage :: n. the joining of a male and female in matrimony b ... of time without legal formalities.
negligence :: n. failure to exercise the care toward others whic ... gence per se res ipsa loquitur tort
no fault insurance :: n: a type of automobile insurance required of car ... ling lawsuits. See also: negligence
not guilty :: n. 1) plea of a person who claims not to have comm ... t guilty by reason of insanity plea
notary public :: n. a person authorized by the state in which the p ... he state which appoints the notary.
notice :: n. 1) information, usually in writing in all legal ... Thirty-day notice three-day notice
own recognizance :: (O.R.) n. the basis for a judge allowing a person ... n recognizance. See also: bail O.R.
pardon :: 1) v. to use the executive power of a Governor or ... also: amnesty commutation reprieve
premeditation :: n. planning, plotting or deliberating before doing ... e murder malice aforethought murder
principal :: n. 1) main person in a business. 2) employer, the ... ry agency agent respondeat superior
process :: n. in law, the legal means by which a person is re ... service of process subpena summons
promissory note :: n. a written promise by a person (variously called ... lso: interest obligee obligor usury
property :: n. anything that is owned by a person or entity. P ... rty real property separate property
prosecute :: v. 1) in criminal law, to charge a person with a c ... rney General prosecution prosecutor
prostitution :: n. the profession of performing sexual acts for mo ... so: pander panderer pimp prostitute
remainder :: n. in real property law, the interest in real prop ... ed reversion title vested remainder
res gestae :: (rayz jest-tie) n. from Latin for "things done," i ... n those circumstances are reliable.
search and seizure :: n. examination of a person's premises (residence, ... robable cause search search warrant
second degree murder :: n. a non-premeditated killing, resulting from an a ... t degree murder manslaughter murder
sedition :: n. the federal crime of advocacy of insurrection a ... e rare. See also: espionage treason
self-defense :: n. the use of reasonable force to protect oneself ... ndalism. See also: assault homicide
sentence :: 1) n. the punishment given to a person convicted o ... ence restitution suspended sentence
service :: n. 1) paid work by another person, either by contr ... ersonal services service of process
service of process :: n. the delivery of copies of legal documents such ... by publication substituted service
sheriff :: n. the top law enforcement officer for a county, u ... ." See also: bailiff sheriff's sale
speaking demurrer :: n. an attempt to introduce evidence during a heari ... the operation." See also: demurrer
special circumstances :: n. in criminal cases, particularly homicides, acti ... urant. See also: capital punishment
standing :: n. the right to file a lawsuit or file a petition ... so: actual controversy jurisdiction
state action :: n. in federal Civil Rights Acts, dating back to 18 ... for damages. See also: civil rights
state of domicile :: n. the state in which a person has his/her permane ... orated. See also: domicile resident
statute of limitations :: n. a law which sets the maximum period which one c ... ies. See also: demurrer laches toll
substituted service :: n. accomplishing service (delivery) of legal docum ... ee also: service service of process
suicide :: n. the intentional killing of oneself. Ironically, ... e manslaughter second degree murder
temporary insanity :: n. in a criminal prosecution, a defense by the acc ... diminished capacity insanity intent
theft :: n. the generic term for all crimes in which a pers ... rglary embezzlement larceny robbery
tort :: n. from French for "wrong," a civil wrong or wrong ... nce slander trespass wrongful death
transferred intent :: n. in both criminal and tort (civil wrong) law, wh ... hit upon Truehart. See also: intent
trust :: n. an entity created to hold assets for the benefi ... testamentary trust trustee trustor
vehicular manslaughter :: n. the crime of causing the death of a human being ... gence manslaughter reckless driving
warrant :: 1) n. an order (writ) of a court which directs a l ... e search and seizure search warrant
will :: n. a written document which leaves the estate of t ... will and testament probate testator
wrongful death :: n. the death of a human being as the result of a w ... ual beneficiaries (family members).

Popular Law Searches

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testamentary disposition legal definition :: n. how the terms of a will divide the testator's ( ... named beneficiaries. See also: will
contract of sufferance :: n. a "hold-over" tenancy after a lease has expired ... y tenancy at will unlawful detainer
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Other Law Terms - M

M. O. :: n. slang for modus operandi, the way or pattern in ... her crime. See also: modus operandi
magistrate :: n. 1) a generic term for any judge of a court, or ... ce of the peace preliminary hearing
Magna Carta :: n. Latin for "Great Charter," it was a document de ... s. It is also spelled Magna Charta.
mail box rule :: n. in contract law, making a written offer or acce ... nse in hand when the time runs out.
maim :: v. to inflict a serious bodily injury, including m ... to a prison term. See also: mayhem
majority :: n. 1) the age when a person can exercise all norma ... t. See also: child infancy minority
make :: v. 1) to create something. 2) to sign a check, pro ... xchange check maker promissory note
make one whole :: v. to pay or award damages sufficient to put the p ... fault of another. See also: damages
maker :: n. 1) the person who signs a check or promissory n ... : check payee payor promissory note
malfeasance :: n. intentionally doing something either legally or ... sponsibility. See also: misfeasance
malice :: n. a conscious, intentional wrongdoing either of a ... cution murder public figure slander
malice aforethought :: n. 1) the conscious intent to cause death or great ... : first degree murder malice murder
malicious prosecution :: n. filing a lawsuit with the intention of creating ... vor of the victim. See also: malice
malpractice :: n. An act or continuing conduct of a professional ... eed. See also: errors and omissions
malum in se :: (mal-uhm in say) adv. Latin referring to an act th ... hibitum. See also: malum prohibitum
malum prohibitum :: (mal-uhm prohibit-uhm) adj. Latin meaning "wrong d ... lso: malum in se white collar crime
mandamus :: (man-dame-us) n. Latin for "we order," a writ (mor ... mandamus. See also: writ of mandate
mandate :: n. 1) any mandatory order or requirement under sta ... See also: mandamus writ of mandate
mandatory :: adj., adv. absolutely demanded or required. ... v. absolutely demanded or required.
mandatory joinder :: n. the required inclusion of a party in a lawsuit ... sues in the case. See also: joinder