First-degree murder is a class A felony in Washington State, and some may say it is one of the most serious crimes a person can commit. The following is a basic overview of what constitutes first-degree murder under Washington law as well as a possible defense against this serious charge.
What is first-degree murder?
Under Washington law, a person commits first-degree murder in the following circumstances. One is if a person had the premeditated intent to cause the death of another person and said death of that person or a third person occurred. Second is if a person manifests an extreme indifference to human life, causing a grave risk of death to any person, and a death does occur. Third is if a person commits or tries to commit certain crimes such as robbery, rape, burglary arson or kidnapping and in the process or while in immediate flight, causes the death of another person apart from those they may be committing the crime with as accomplices.
What is a possible defense to a charge of first-degree murder?
With regards to the third circumstance that could lead to first-degree murder charges, there is a possible defense argument. If it can be shown by a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant was not the only person involved in the underlying crime, did not commit the homicide or request it or aid in its commission, and if the defendant was not armed with a deadly weapon, and if the defendant had no reasonable reason to know that any other participant to the underlying crime was armed and if the defendant had no reasonable reason to believe any other participant to the underlying crime intended to kill someone, then the defendant may not be found guilty of first-degree murder.
Learn more about violent crimes in Washington State
Ultimately, this post is for informational purposes only and does not contain legal advice. Those who want to learn more about violent crimes in Washington State are encouraged to visit our firm’s website for more information.