Murder Defense

In Michigan, the crime of murder must fall into the category of either first or second degree.

First degree murder: felony: mandatory life; no parole) -- "felony murder" (murder committed in the course of another felony), murdering a peace officer in the line of duty, or "premeditated murder". Murder cannot occur accidentally, the defendant must have intended to kill. Premeditation means that the defendant had time to consider the pros and cons of the killing beforehand.

Second degree murder: felony: Life or any term of years) -- causing death + intending to kill or do great bodily harm or knowingly creating a very high risk of death or great bodily harm knowing that death or such harm would be the likely result of his/her actions.

Open Murder: Michigan law does not require a prosecutor to choose between First Degree or Second Degree Murder when issuing a complaint, or even at trial. A prosecutor may charge "Open Murder", which is a combination of First and Second Degree Murder, and the jury may determine the appropriate degree based on the proofs.

The Michigan statutes proscribing murder are as follows:

First degree murder

(1) A person who commits any of the following is guilty of first degree murder and shall be punished by imprisonment for life:

  1. Murder perpetrated by means of poison, lying in wait, or any other willful, deliberate, and premeditated killing.
  2. Murder committed in the perpetration of, or attempt to perpetrate, arson, criminal sexual conduct in the first, second, or third degree, child abuse in the first degree, a major controlled substance offense, robbery, carjacking, breaking and entering of a dwelling, home invasion in the first or second degree, larceny of any kind, extortion, kidnapping, or vulnerable adult abuse in the first and second degree under section 145n.
  3. A murder of a peace officer or a corrections officer committed while the peace officer or corrections officer is lawfully engaged in the performance of any of his or her duties as a peace officer or corrections officer, knowing that the peace officer or corrections officer is a peace officer or corrections officer engaged in the performance of his or her duty as a peace officer or corrections officer.

(2) As used in this section:

  1. “Arson” means a felony violation of chapter X.
  2. “Corrections officer” means any of the following:
    1. A prison or jail guard or other prison or jail personnel.
    2. Any of the personnel of a boot camp, special alternative incarceration unit, or other minimum security correctional facility.
    3. A parole or probation officer.
  3. “Major controlled substance offense” means any of the following:
    1. A violation of section 7401(2)(a)(i) to (iii) of the public health code, 1978 PA 368, MCL 333.7401.
    2. A violation of section 7403(2)(a)(i) to (iii) of the public health code, 1978 PA 368, MCL 333.7403.
    3. A conspiracy to commit an offense listed in subparagraph (i) or (ii).
  4. “Peace officer” means any of the following:
    1. A police or conservation officer of this state or a political subdivision of this state.
    2. A police or conservation officer of the United States.
    3. A police or conservation officer of another state or a political subdivision of another state.

Second degree murder

Second degree murder—All other kinds of murder shall be murder of the second degree, and shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for life, or any term of years, in the discretion of the court trying the same.

Indictment for murder and manslaughter

In all indictments for murder and manslaughter it shall not be necessary to set forth the manner in which nor the means by which the death of the deceased was caused; but it shall be sufficient in any indictment for murder to charge that the defendant did murder the deceased; and it shall be sufficient in manslaughter to charge that the defendant did kill the deceased.

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