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Mississippi Murder Laws

Most states divide the crime of murder into first- and second-degree murder laws. However, Mississippi does not divide murder into degrees. In the Magnolia State, there is only murder and capital murder. Capital murder is the most serious form of homicide and includes the most violent and egregious types of murder such as the killing of a police officer while he or she is performing official duties or murder by bombing.  

Overview of Mississippi Murder Laws

The following table outlines murder laws in Mississippi.

Code Sections MISS. CODE ANN. §§ 97-3-15, 97-3-17 , 97-3-19, 97-3-21
What is Prohibited?

Murder is causing the death another person under any of the following circumstances:

  • Premeditated killing of another person or unborn child
  • While committing an eminently dangerous act showing a depraved heart and with no regard for human life
  • While committing or attempting to commit any felony (other than those delineated below for capital murder)

Capital murder is causing the death of another person under any of the following circumstances:

  • Knowingly killing a peace officer or fireman while they are acting in an official capacity
  • While serving a life imprisonment sentence
  • By detonating a bomb or explosive device
  • Murder for gain after being offered or receiving something of value
  • While committing or attempting to commit any of the following violent felonies: rape, kidnapping, burglary, arson, robbery, sexual battery, unnatural intercourse with a child under 12 years of age, nonconsensual unnatural intercourse with a person, or felonious abuse and/or battery of a child

The killing was an accident.

The killing occurred upon being suddenly provoked, while acting in the "heat of passion ." (The person may still be charged with manslaughter.)

The killing was committed upon sudden combat, not in a cruel or unusual manner, and without any undue advantage or dangerous weapon.

The killing was by a public officer (or others acting with their aid and assistance) while acting under a legal duty such as a court judgment, in order to prevent a person from resisting a legal process (such as an arrest), or to capture an escaped felon or arrest a fleeing felon.

The killing was committed while lawfully defending oneself, another person, or a business, place of employment, or one's property from a current or imminent felony, great personal injury, or death, attempting to apprehend the perpetrator of a felony, suppressing a riot, or in keeping and preserving the peace.


Murder is a felony punishable by life imprisonment.

Capital murder is a felony punishable by death or life imprisonment (with or without parole).

Mississippi Murder Laws: Related Resources

Murder is a serious crime with great consequences. If you are in need of legal assistance, you may want to contact a Mississippi criminal defense attorney. You may also want to visit Findlaw's sections on Mississippi Capital Punishment Laws for more information on the death penalty in Mississippi. You can also visit Findlaw's sections on First Degree Murder Overview, First Degree Murder Penalties and Sentencing, Second Degree Murder Overview, and Second Degree Penalties and Sentencing for more articles and information on this topic.

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