Nolo's Plain-English Law Dictionary


The killing of a human being by a sane person, with intent or malice aforethought, and with no legal excuse or authority. Many states make killings in which there is torture, movement of the person (kidnapping) before the killing, or death of a police officer or prison guard first degree murders with or without premeditation, with malice presumed. A killing that happens during the course of specified crimes (known as felony murder) may also be first degree murder. (See also: first degree murder, second degree murder, felony murder doctrine)