New York Penal Law § 125.25: Murder in the second degree

Taking a life is a serious matter. In the State of New York, there are several different classifications that determine the severity of the crime, as well as the severity of the punishment that one could receive for committing such an act. Crimes that end with the death of another person are divided into categories like murder, homicide, and manslaughter, with murder crimes being considered the most serious. If you are charged and successfully found guilty of murder, you will potentially face life in prison. Murder itself can be divided into a few different categories, one of which is Murder in the Second Degree.

The Law

New York Penal Law § 125.25

An individual can be found guilty of this crime when the following criteria are met:

1. He or she intentionally causes the death of a person or causes the death of a
third party when intentionally trying to cause the death of another person.

2. He or she shows a ‘depraved indifference’ to human life, recklessly engaging in actions that create a ‘grave risk of death’ to another person.

3. He or she causes the death of another party during the commission of one of a number of other felony crimes.

4. He or she is over the age of eighteen and recklessly engages in actions that are likely to cause grave injury or death to a person under the age of eleven years old and causes that person’s death

or

5. He or she is over the age of eighteen and intentionally causes the death of a person under the age of fourteen during the commission of one of several sexual crimes.

An Example of Murder in the Second Degree

Second-degree murder can happen in a number of different ways. Under the fourth example, Person A might forcibly have intercourse with Person B, who is under fourteen years old. After being threatened by Person A, Person B runs away with the intent to tell the police. Person A catches up to Person B and, in a fit of anger, pushes Person B into a wall, which causes her to fall down and hurt his or her head. When Person B dies from those injuries, Person A will be able to be prosecuted for Murder in the Second Degree because he killed a person under the age of fourteen during the commission of a rape.

Crimes Related to Murder in the Second Degree

There are several offenses that are related to Murder in the Second Degree. These include:

New York Penal Law § 125.22: Aggravated Manslaughter in the First Degree
New York Penal Law § 125.26: Aggravated Murder
New York Penal Law § 125.27: Murder in the First Degree

Defenses to Murder in the Second Degree

There are actually many defenses to Murder in the Second Degree. If you take a look at the law as written, you’ll see that there are specific affirmative defenses that can be raised if one is charged with this crime. Perhaps the most common, and most important, is self-defense. If you take a life in order to protect your own, it may be found that you aren’t guilty of Murder in the Second Degree, though it’s important that you show that you were actually in imminent danger and that your actions were necessary to preserve your own life.

Penalties

Murder in the Second Degree is one of the most significant crimes in the state of New York. It is one of the very few crimes that is considered an A-I felony, and thus carries with it some of the harshest penalties in the state. If you are found guilty of Murder in the Second Degree, you stand a chance of spending the rest of your life in prison. Even if you do not get a life sentence, you should know that those found guilty are given a minimum sentence of between fifteen to forty years.

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