What Are the Different Types of Murder Charges [Definition and Explanation]


Anyone found guilty in a murder or homicide case faces severe penalties, usually a high number of years in prison. Homicide is understood to be the action of killing a person involuntarily.

On the other hand, murder consists of killing a person as long as certain requirements are met. The requirements can be treachery, the possible reward after the death of a person, or cruelty.

Murder has different modalities, that is, different degrees of guilt. So, what are the different types of murder charges?

Let’s explore.

Crime of Murder

The crime of murder is anyone who kills another under one of the following circumstances. Then s/he will be punished with a prison sentence of eleven to twenty years:

  • With treachery
  • By price, reward, or promise
  • With cruelty, deliberately and inhumanly increasing the pain of the offended.

The penal code defines treachery when the guilty commit any of the crimes against persons ensuring death. It means using any means, modes, or forms that tend directly or especially to ensure it. There is no risk that this person could come from the defense on the part of the offended.

How Are The Crimes Of Homicide And Murder Different?

Homicide and murder are considered serious crimes in the Penal Code. Except in the case of reckless homicide, it is a less serious crime. People often seem to confuse between homicide and murder.

However, there are substantial differences between the two:


Description: One person kills another.


  • That the victim is under 16 or especially vulnerable (sick, disabled); 
  • That the homicide occurs just after a crime against sexual freedom and with the same victim; 
  • That the perpetrator belongs to a criminal group or organization; 
  • Or when, in addition, a crime of attack on the authority, its agents, or its public officials has been committed.

Penalty: From 10 years to 20 years in prison.


Description: A person kills another (homicide), but it is with treachery, for money, with cruelty, or to facilitate another crime commission. Or it can be even to prevent it from being discovered.


  • That the victim is under 16 or vulnerable; 
  • That the homicide occurs after a crime “against sexual freedom”; 
  • That the author belongs to a criminal organization; 
  • Or when, in addition, a crime of attacking authority has been committed. 

Penalty: Reviewable permanent prison.

What Is 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Degree Murders: What are the differences?

Understanding treachery is the key to determining whether the act of killing is homicide or murder. Murder is also classified into 3 types. They are 1st, 2nd and 3rd Degree murders.

There is treachery in a criminal action when the offender acts treacherously against someone and with the total certainty that he will cause harm.

Thus, if someone kills another person from behind using a firearm, it would be a treacherous murder. Of course, it is an aggravating factor when judging the criminal’s conduct.

First Degree Murder

A murder normally receives this classification when someone knows with certainty that their behavior will result in a person’s death. For this reason, the murder is considered deliberate. That means someone intends to kill and acts in full awareness of it. 

As a general criterion, cases of poisoning or strangulation are the most typical within this modality. Such actions imply a deliberate attitude on the part of the accused.

Second Degree Murder

Unlike first-degree murder, second-degree murder occurs when there is no premeditated plan associated with the act of killing. This criminal category occurs in those cases where someone dies as a result of recklessness.

If an individual beat another and the latter eventually dies, the aggressor’s action may be considered involuntary manslaughter. The second degree only applies if it is shown that there was no intention to kill. It needs to be proved that death is the result of an accident. 

Third Degree Murder

One or more persons’ death is classified as a third-degree homicide when the person responsible for the death has acted irresponsibly or recklessly. Consequently, the law punishes a lack of care. The court will find responsible for the lack of good sense in the person who has caused another’s death.

For example: When a driver runs over a pedestrian as a result of irresponsible driving.

Murder In Legitimate Defense

If someone kills another person in defense of their own life, what does the law say then? Such action can be considered justified, and for this reason, it is called legitimate defense. 

This legal figure is universal and is based on the instinct of conservation of human beings.

Final Verdict

Hopefully, now you know what are the different types of murder charges. If you are charged with any one of them, you need a good lawyer. Only a good lawyer can figure out what your actual crime is and can find a solution.

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