At common law, as well as under modern statutory codes, the crime of murder was defined as a homicide committed with "malice aforethought." Some modern statutes divide the crime of murder into degrees. In this lesson, we examine these statutes in an effort to see when and how they apply. The lesson is intended for students who have studied the murder by degree statutes in class, and who wish to refine and enhance their knowledge and understanding of the topic.
On completion of the lesson, the student will be able to:
1. Examine how some modern statutes divide the crime of murder into degrees to see when and how they apply.
2. Discuss the types of factors that might be used to aggravate a homicide from second degree murder to first degree murder.
3. Analyze the elements of premeditation and deliberation used in many states to aggravate a homicide to first degree.