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Arkansas Second-Degree Murder

Anytime that one person is killed by the actions of another, a homicide has occurred. Homicides can either be illegal (criminal homicide) or legal, depending on the circumstances surrounding the killing. In Arkansas there are six types of criminal homicide: capital murder, murder in the first degree, murder in the second degree, manslaughter, negligent homicide, and physician-assisted suicide. This article provides a brief overview of second-degree murder in Arkansas.

What's the Difference Between First and Second Degree Murder?

Murder is the unlawful and unjustifiable killing of another under certain circumstances that are defined by each state. Many states, including Arkansas, divide the crime of murder into the separate crimes of first-degree murder and second-degree murder.

First-degree murder generally encompasses the following categories:

Second-degree murder is generally either:

  • An unplanned intentional killing, or
  • A killing caused by a reckless disregard for human life

However, it is important to remember that the categories above are generalizations and that you must look at each state's specifies statutes to know which acts qualify as first-degree murder or second-degree murder within that state.

Second-Degree Murder in Arkansas

The following chart outlines Arkansas' second-degree murder law.

Code Section

Arkansas Code section 5-10-103: Murder in the Second Degree

What's Prohibited?

There are two ways to commit second-degree murder:

1. Knowingly causing the death of another person while manifesting an extreme indifference to the value of human life, or

2. Causing the death of any person with the purpose of causing serious physical injury to another person


Class A felony. Punishable by a fine of up to $15,000 and/or imprisonment for between six and 30 years.

Second-Degree Murder Defenses

Although each murder case is highly fact dependent, there are several commonly used defenses to second-degree murder charges:

  • Actual Innocence
  • Insanity
  • Self-Defense

For additional details about possible defenses to second-degree murder, see Second Degree Murder Defenses.

Additional Resources

State laws change frequently. For case specific information about Arkansas' second-degree murder law contact a local criminal defense attorney.

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