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What is second-degree murder in Maryland?

In last week's blog post, we discussed voluntary manslaughter. If you recall, we discussed how some other murder cases can be pleaded down to a voluntary manslaughter charge. With that in mind, this week, we are going to answer some common questions about second-degree manslaughter and how that charge is viewed in the eyes of Maryland law.

What is second-degree murder?

Second-degree murder occurs when you kill someone intentionally but without a malicious reason and without pre-planning. This is sort of a middle of the road charge for murder. First-degree murder requires pre-planning and malicious intent, and voluntary manslaughter requires a pleaded down charge because of circumstances involving a murder in the heat of passion. Maryland law states that second-degree murder is an appropriate charge for "intentionally causing the death of another human being."

What is the penalty for second-degree murder?

A person who is convicted of second-degree murder faces up to 30 years in prison. This is a felony charge. On top of the criminal penalty, it might be possible for the victim's family to seek civil compensation from a person who committed second-degree murder.

There are several defense options possible for a second-degree murder charge. What is the best approach for one person might not be the best for another person. Working with someone who is familiar with the Maryland laws and learning about all the available options might help someone who is facing a murder charge to decide how to proceed with his or her defense as his or her case makes its way through the court system.

Source: FindLaw, "Maryland Second-Degree Murder" accessed Jan. 23, 2015

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