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Indiana's Laws on Homicide

Info: 1747 words (7 pages) Law Essay
Published: 7th Aug 2019

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Jurisdiction(s): US Law

There are many different crimes that are considered homicide. The definition of homicide is the taking of a human life. Every state in the United States has their own classifications of homicide. Indiana has only one murder statue. However, there are separate laws that apply to manslaughter. The different types of homicide are murder, manslaughter, and justifiable homicide.

The definition of murder is the unlawful premeditated killing of one human being by another. The mandatory minimum for first degree murder is almost always higher than that for second degree murder. Defendants convicted of first degree murder can also be eligible for the ultimate penalty: death. Many states and the federal government still have the death penalty. In other states, the maximum penalty is life in prison without the possibility of parole. Defendants convicted of second degree murder are often sentenced to a term of years rather than life in prison and are often eligible for parole (Berman S). For Example if there is a robbery that does turn into a fatality unintentionally, the person participating under duress would be convicted of murder. However, in some states this could be considered defense.  This Comment explores the availability of the duress defense for felony murder. Six states prohibit the duress defense for all murder, felony murder included. Seven states bar the defense for murder generally, but make an exception for felony murder if the duress excuses the defendant’s participation in the underlying felony (Shankland, 2009). 

There are two different types of murder: first degree murder, and second degree murder. First degree murder which is defined as the unlawful killing that is willful, and premeditated (First Degree). First degree murder is also the most serious. First degree murder is planned or the person is waiting for the victim to be where they want them. Along, with first degree murder here is also, “felony murder rule”. This rule states that if a death occurs even accidental during arson, burglary, kidnapping, rape, and robbery then the person who committed the crime is guilty of first degree murder (First Degree). The requirements for a person to commit first degree murder are Willfulness, Deliberation, and Premeditation (First Degree). In Types of First degree murders are the killing of a child by use of unreasonable force, certain killings committed in a pattern of domestic abuse; the murder of law a law enforcement officer, and homicides occurring in the commission of other crimes such as arson, rape, robbery or other violent crimes (First Degree). Indiana the death penalty is allowed for first degree murder. However, in order to get a conviction of the death penalty there can be no doubt in anybody’s mind that the suspect did in fact commit the crimes.  If the death penalty is not an option for a conviction, then the defendant can be sentenced to life in prison without parole.

Second degree murder is defined as “any intentional murder with malice aforethought, but is not premeditated or planned in advance.” Therefore, in order for a murder to fall into the second degree murder category it can’t be intentional, planned, or committed with heat of passion (Second Degree). Second degree murder is the middle ground between first degree murder, and voluntary manslaughter (Second Degree). What separates first degree murder and second degree murder is the person’s mental state when the crime is committed. As first degree murder involves premeditation second degree does not. Second degree is considered as: a killing done impulsively without premeditation but with malice, a killing that results from an act intended to cause serious harm, and a killing that results from an act that demonstrates perpetrators deprave indifference to human life (Second Degree).  Impulsive killings with malice aforethought are killing that are a result from impulse. They occur in the heat of the moment. Second degree murder may not be as serious as first degree murder. However, it is still serious, and someone still died. If a person is convicted of second degree murder they are looking at 10-25 years in prison.

Manslaughter is another crime apart of homicide. The definition of manslaughter is the crime of killing a human being without malice aforethought, or otherwise in circumstances not amounting to murder. The charge of manslaughter is reserved for instances where the accused did not plan the crime nor did he or she intend for the victim to die because of his or her actions. Manslaughter charges usually arise out of accidental circumstances where a person died because of the event (What are). An example of manslaughter would be a new parent who leaves their baby in the car on a hot summer day, and the baby then dies from the heat. The parent of the newborn can be charged with manslaughter.  There are two different types of manslaughter, voluntary, and involuntary. Voluntary manslaughter happens when one person intentionally kills another person, but he or she acted out of passion or anger before having time to calm down (Indiana Voluntary). The charge of manslaughter is reserved for instances where the accused did not plan the crime nor did he or she intend for the victim to die because of his or her actions (What Are).

Involuntary manslaughter is “In the commission of an unlawful act not amounting to a felony, or in the commission in an unlawful manner, or without due caution and circumspection, of a lawful act which might produce death” (18 U.S.). Whoever is convicted guilty of involuntary manslaughter could be fined or imprisoned no more than 8 years, or both (18 U.S.). However, if a person accused of involuntary manslaughter is found not guilty, then the family of the victim can still sue the accused for a wrongful death civil suit.

The last type of homicide discussed in this paper is justifiable homicide. Justifiable homicide is defined as “no fault” homicides. They ordinarily involve the death of someone under circumstances of necessity or duty (US Legal).  Justifiable Homicides are characterized by a lack of criminal intent, and the person convicted guilty to have committed a justifiable homicide is freed. “They are distinguished from crimes of passion, which involves a lessening of the charge or sentence” (US Legal). Justifiable Homicide is not considered a crime, as self- defense is considered justifiable homicide. Homicide is also considered justifiable when committed by any person in any of the following cases:

  1. When resisting any attempt to murder any person, or to commit a felony, or to do some great bodily injury upon any person; or, 
  2. When committed in defense of habitation, property, or person, against one who manifestly intends or endeavors, by violence or surprise, to commit a felony, or against one who manifestly intends and endeavors, in a violent, riotous or tumultuous manner, to enter the habitation of another for the purpose of offering violence to any person therein; or,
  3. When committed in the lawful defense of such person, or of a wife or husband, parent, child, master, mistress, or servant of such person, when there is reasonable ground to apprehend a design to commit a felony or to do some great bodily injury, and imminent danger of such design being accomplished; but such person, or the person in whose behalf the defense was made, if he was the assailant or engaged in mutual combat, must really and in good faith have endeavored to decline any further struggle before the homicide was committed; or,
  4. When necessarily committed in attempting, by lawful ways and means, to apprehend any person for any felony committed, or in lawfully suppressing any riot, or in lawfully keeping and preserving the peace (US Legal).  With that being said there are situations where a person, cannot be convicted of homicide, and have it be justifiable. Depending on the scenario or situation will depend on if you complete jail time.

In conclusion of this paper each type of homicide is a serious offense. However, getting convicted of first degree murder is going to represent the longest punishment period. In addition, justifiable homicide is going to have the least, to no punishment time depending on the situation.

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