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Iowa Second-Degree Murder

When one person causes the death of another person, it falls under the umbrella of homicide. Although every state has its own homicide laws, each state usually divides homicide into murder and manslaughter. Generally, murder and manslaughter are also divided into further levels. The most serious homicide crimes are first-degree murder and second-degree murder.

In Iowa, a murder occurs when one person kills another person with malice aforethought, which can be express or implied. When a person has "malice aforethought" it basically means that he or she has the intent to kill or cause seriously bodily injury to another person. Iowa then divides murder into first-degree and second-degree murder. In order to be classified as first-degree murder, the murder must occur under specific circumstances. Second-degree murder, on the other hand, is a catchall crime between first-degree murder and voluntary manslaughter.

Iowa Second-Degree Murder Statute

The following table is a quick summary of Iowa's second-degree murder law.

Code Section

Iowa Code Annotated § 707.3, Murder in the Second Degree.

What is Prohibited?

A person can be charged with second-degree murder if he or she commits a murder that doesn't satisfy any of the circumstances listed in the first-degree murder statute.


Second-degree murder is a class B felony. Conviction under this statute is punishable by up to 50 years in prison.


Generally, the defense to second-degree murder depends on the specific facts of the case. However, two possible defenses in Iowa are insanity or defense of self or another person.

Iowa Second-Degree Murder: Related Resources

You can visit FindLaw's Criminal Law section for more information and articles on this topic. If you or someone close to you has been charged with second-degree murder or any other crime, it's in your best interest to contact a criminal defense attorney in your area.

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