In light of recent events surrounding the death of George Floyd, many people have questioned the defining characteristics of murder. There are different types of murder including involuntary and voluntary manslaughter, reckless homicide and premeditated murder.

Murder convictions are not legal unless there is substantial evidence proving that the accused did, in fact, act in a manner that ultimately ended the life of the victim. People’s understanding of what determines premeditation including its impact on murder charges may help them to better understand the decisions made by legal professionals.

Defining premeditation

According to Cornell Law School, premeditation is when people think about doing something prior to actually doing it. This process is often calculated and requires perpetrators to think about what means they will use to complete a task. In a majority of areas in the United States, premeditation stands regardless of how long a thought process continues so long as contemplation of any kind happened.  Often, there is no minimum amount of time required for contemplation.

The impact of premeditation

If a person premeditates doing something prior to acting according to Cornell Law School, they could receive the maximum charge of first-degree murder. In many states, a primary determining factor between first and second-degree murder is whether or not premeditation occurred. Some states no longer require evidence of premeditation to charge people with first-degree murder, but most others agree that intentional behavior resulting in another’s death qualifies as premeditation and should thus receive the maximum charge.

Even if premeditation is not considered and a person receives a charge of second-degree murder, modifications or discoveries throughout an investigation may alter that decision.

Attorney John Freeman understands premeditation.  He has prosecuted and defended murder charges, in addition to other violent crimes.  If you or a loved one needs help with a violent crime charge, the Law Office of John Freeman is here to help.