Murder is the killing of another human being without reason. Under New York law, murder is committed with intended malice and can be premeditated or unplanned.

  • Homicide: Homicide occurs when one human being causes the death of another human being. This includes euthanasia, execution, and killing in war. The difference between murder and homicide is intent. Murder requires intent to kill while homicide does not.
  • Manslaughter: Manslaughter is the technical term for homicide but under murder. There are two types of manslaughter which is voluntary and involuntary. Voluntary manslaughter is when a person kills malice but was provoked. Involuntary manslaughter is when a person kills without malice or intention.
  • Felony Murder: this occurs when a person kills another during the commission of a crime (i.e. a person being robbed has a heart attack and dies).

Murder in the state of New York is a Class A felony. People convicted of first degree murder are usually sentenced to 25 years in prison but based on circumstances, it can be the death penalty or life without parole. The death penalty has been listed as a possible sentence but in recent history, New York has elected not to sentence the accused to the death penalty.

  • Extreme emotional disturbance: the defense of extreme emotional disturbance is that the accused became so enraged that they lost control of their actions with a valid reason. The incident which caused them to lose control led to the death of the person.
  • Mental disease or defect (insanity): the defense of mental disease or defect is that the accused is not responsible for their actions due to mitigating circumstances about their mental health that a healthy person would be able to distinguish.
  • Self-defense: the defense of self-defense is that the accused killed the decedent because they were in fear for their life.

Murder is mostly a local felony but under special circumstances, it is governed by federal laws. These situation can range from killing a juror to influence a court case to the killing of an elected official. These crimes still carry the same penalty of murder as the state penal codes.

One of the most high profile cases of murder was People of the State of California v. Orenthal James (O.J.) Simpson where O.J. was tried on two counts of murder after the deaths of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and waiter Ronald Lyle Goldman, in June 1994. The case lasted eight months with Simpson hiring a high-profile defense team. Led by Johnnie Cochran, the defense team alleged that there was police misconduct with the evidence and mishandled evidence. The jury found OJ not guilty as a result of this evidence by the defense. By the end of the criminal trial, national surveys showed dramatic differences in the assessment of Simpson’s guilt or innocence between most black and white Americans.

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