What is premeditated and deliberate conduct?

Most states require premeditation, and many also require deliberation, for a conviction of first-degree murder. The concepts are intricately related, and the difference between them can be largely semantic. Crimes other than those involving homicide may also require premeditation and deliberation.

What Is Premeditation?

Someone premeditates a crime by considering it before committing it. Premeditation requires that the defendant thinks out the act, no matter how quickly—it can be as simple as deciding to pick up a hammer that is lying nearby and to use it as a weapon.

What Is Deliberation?

A defendant deliberates by considering the act and its consequences (but not necessarily the punishment) and deciding to follow through with it. A deliberate act isn't provoked or carried out in the heat of passion. But the fact that a defendant was excited or angry doesn't rule out deliberation.

How Much Time Is Required for Premeditation and Deliberation?

Time alone doesn't determine whether a defendant's crime was premeditated and deliberated. All premeditation and deliberation require is the time it takes to form the intent, ponder the crime, and then act. Defendants can premeditate and deliberate in a matter of minutes, as long as the thought process occurs before the act.

And no specific formula exists for determining whether a defendant premeditated and deliberated before acting. Courts and juries will consider the circumstances of each case.

EXAMPLE: A defendant convicted of first-degree murder for strangling a victim with a lamp cord premeditated the murder. The evidence showed that the defendant repositioned the cord around the victim's neck numerous times, each time giving him the opportunity to reflect on his actions. The defendant had also had time to consider his actions during a struggle with the victim prior to the strangulation, further proving premeditation. (Berube v. State, 5 So.3d 734 (Fla. 2009).)

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