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Kansas Second-Degree Murder

Murder is generally defined as the unlawful killing of another with malice (or the desire to inflict injury or harm). However, each state defines murder slightly differently. In Kansas, the crime of murder is broken down into three separate crimes: capital murder, first-degree murder, and second-degree murder. This article provides a brief overview of Kansas' second-degree murder law.

Capital murders and first-degree murders in Kansas are either premeditated intentional killings or classified as felony murder. On the other hand, second-degree murders are either unplanned but intentional killings, or killings caused by a reckless disregard for human life. The following chart outlines Kansas' second-degree murder law.

Code Section

Kansas Statutes section 21-3402: Murder in the Second Degree

What's Prohibited?

Killing a human being either:
  • Intentionally, or
  • Unintentionally but recklessly under circumstances manifesting an extreme indifference to the value of human life


If the killing was done intentionally: Severity level 1, person felony.

If the killing was done unintentionally: Severity level 2, person felony.

Examples of Second-Degree Murder

Impulsive killings with malice aforethought: These murders happen in the heat of the moment, with the intent to inflict injury or harm, and don't involve premeditation (the consideration or planning of an act beforehand). In other words, the offender didn't have a plan to kill the victim, but ends up intentionally killing in the heat of the moment. For example, if two parties get into a car accident, exchange heated words, and then one party gets so upset that he pulls out a gun and kills the other by shooting him, the man with the gun would likely be guilty of second-degree murder in Kansas.

Killings resulting from an extreme indifference to human life: It is hard to precisely define which circumstances qualify as "manifesting an extreme indifference to human life," but this usually encompasses situations where the offender had an utter disregard for the fact that his action could potentially damage human life. For example, if someone stands on a freeway overpass, and throws bricks down onto the freeway during rush-hour striking a car that crashes and kills the driver, the brick thrower would likely be guilty of second-degree murder in Kansas.

Additional Resources

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

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