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Maine Murder Law

Homicide occurs whenever one person takes the life of another human being, whether or not the killing was unlawful. In Maine, criminal homicides are subcategorized into three different crimes: murder, felony murder, and manslaughter. This article provides a brief overview of Maine's murder law.

Murder is generally defined as the unlawful killing of another with malice aforethought. In some states, the crime of murder is then divided into first-degree murder and second-degree murder, depending on the circumstances surrounding the killing. In Maine, however, one statute criminalizes almost all types of murder.

Code Section

Maine Revised Statute 17-A section 201: Murder

What's Prohibited?

A person is guilty of murder if the person:
  • Intentionally or knowingly causes the death of another human being
  • Engages in conduct that manifests a depraved indifference to the value of human life and that in fact causes the death of another human being, or
  • Intentionally or knowingly causes another human being to commit suicide by the use of force, duress, or deception


A person convicted of murder will be sentenced to imprisonment for between 25 years and life.

If the victim was less than six years old, or if the victim was a woman that the offender knew (or had reasonable cause to believe) was pregnant, then the court will assign special weight to this objective fact in determining the offender's sentence.

Affirmative Defense

It is an affirmative defense to a murder charge for intentionally or knowingly causing the death of another human being if the person causes the death while under the influence of extreme anger or extreme fear brought on by adequate provocation. However, the offender may still be guilty of manslaughter in these situations.

Provocation is adequate if it wasn't induced by the killer, and it's reasonable that the killer reacted to the provocation with extreme anger or extreme fear.

What's the Difference Between Murder and Felony Murder?

Offenders convicted under Maine's murder law are punished for intentionally killing, killing through extreme recklessness, or intentionally causing another human to commit suicide. However, other killings in Maine may also constitute murder under the closely related crime of felony murder. Maine's felony murder law holds felons responsible for deaths that occur during or shortly after the commission of an inherently dangerous crime. For more information about Maine's felony murder law see 17-A section 202.

Additional Resources

State laws change frequently. For case specific information regarding Maine's murder law contact a local criminal defense attorney.

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