What is the difference between first degree murder, felony murder, and second degree murder? (Provide an example for each).
First-degree murder occurs when a defendant intentionally plans to execute a killing. It is termed the leading homicide classification (Allen, 2017). The requisite for this is the premeditation or aforethought. For example, when an accused shoots a man at close range, the intent to kill is investigated and if sufficient evidence of premeditation is arrived at, then it gets convicted as premeditated murder. Felony murder, on the other hand, is when an accused person unintentionally kills an individual in the process of committing, or in the attempt of committing an offense (John, 1989). An example is during a burglary, defendants rape a woman and this is charged as felony murder, secondary to the original felony and conviction verdict would be guilty of murder. Lastly, second-degree murder refers to murder done as perpetrated by one, not at the time of committing the crime not being in the right mind, and without having the aspects of premeditation, aforethought or in coincidence to any other felony (Allen, 2017). For example, when a defendant killed a human being in the process of shooting out to a crowd.
What is the difference between voluntary and involuntary manslaughter? (Provide an example for each).
The basis for voluntary manslaughter is that there is required to have an intent to kill or in the process cause intense harm to the body, while in regards to involuntary manslaughter, there is no evidence of any intent to cause bodily harm or the intention to kill (“Criminal Law. Former Jeopardy. Acquittal of Involuntary Manslaughter Held to Bar Subsequent Prosecution on Assault and Battery Indictment,” 1954). The main difference between the two lays majorly on the intent. Voluntary manslaughter occurs for example during an intensely heated argument where the defendant had an intention to hurt the other party and did not hesitate to do it and ended up killing them instead. On the other hand, involuntary manslaughter is when the defendant did not have the intent to kill, but in the process killed the other party due to negligence or accidentally firing a firearm (“Criminal Law. Former Jeopardy. Acquittal of Involuntary Manslaughter Held to Bar Subsequent Prosecution on Assault and Battery Indictment,” 1954)..
In your opinion, should murder be lowered to voluntary manslaughter in certain cases (sudden quarrel or heat of passion?) Is this ever justified, and how could this be justified?
Yes. It is my view that some situations would call for lowering to voluntary manslaughter from murder. The basis for such would be evidence for or lack thereof of premeditation, intent to kill, negligence, intent to hurt as well as the intention to cause bodily harm to another individual (John, 1989). If a defendant was committing a burglary and in the event, the owner of the shop was around and a sudden quarrel emerges, and in the process the defendant kills them, the charge should not be lowered. If while walking on the sidewalks, and the defendant was stepped on by mistake, and a sudden quarrel surfaced and he or she hits the other party with a fist blow and they fall, hit their head and die, then consideration can be made to lower to voluntary manslaughter. The justification for the lowering of murder to voluntary manslaughter would be on whether the defendant just wanted to scare the other party or hurt them a bit to get even but accidentally ended up killing the victim (“Criminal Law. Former Jeopardy. Acquittal of Involuntary Manslaughter Held to Bar Subsequent Prosecution on Assault and Battery Indictment,” 1954)a.
Although treated together in some jurisdictions, what is the difference between assault, and battery?
Assault is a threat to inflict bodily harm and it causes reasonable fear to the victim, whereas battery refers to the actual impact at a physical level to another individual (Allen, 2017). The main difference between the two is the evidence of actual physical harm to the body of another individual. Therefore, for one to get charged with assault, the evidence of threatening to harm the other party is present, and in order to get charged with battery, the actual presence of evidence regarding physical harm to the body of the other party should get produced.
What is the difference between simple and aggravated assault? (Provide an example for each).
Simple assault is when a defendant did and act to put the other party into fear of causing bodily harm to them. It gets classified under a misdemeanour (Allen, 2017). For example, when an individual is shaking down someone who had delayed paying their owed debts and verbally intimidates them, it is termed as a simple assault. On the other hand, aggravated assault refers to putting the other party with fear of bodily harm with the intent to actually cause bodily harm to them. For example, when the debt collector causes bodily harm to the other party and evidence is produced of doing so with a deadly weapon, then this turns into an aggravated assault.
What are the differences between simple and aggravated battery? (Provide an example for each).
A simple battery occurs when an individual intentionally does cause bodily harm to another or makes provoking body contact. An example is a domestic battery, battery to an unborn child or sexual battery (Allen & Edwards, 2017). Aggravated assault occurs when one intentionally unlawfully attacks another individual when using a weapon and in the process causes bodily harm such a fractured or broken bone (Allen & Edwards, 2017).
From your readings, are these definitions always easy to apply to the facts of any given case, especially when determining what is a “deadly weapon” and what is “great bodily harm?” In your opinion, should these terms be left to a jury to decide and why or why not?
It is my view that when one understands the basic terminologies, it becomes a little bit easier to differentiate the circumstantial evidence produced. The degree of the injury caused in regards to bodily harm as well as the weapons should be assessed. It is my view the jury should have a base understanding of the terminologies, but should not be left to decide. The reasoning behind this is that they may have differing prejudices where one sees a pocket knife as a deadly weapon where the other sees it as a mere tool to help butter bread during a picnic. Therefore, professional weapon specialists should get consulted.