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Nebraska First-Degree Murder

Murder in Nebraska is divided into two degrees: first-degree murder and second-degree murder. In most states, first-degree murder encompasses premeditated intentional killings and felony murder, while second-degree murders are unplanned intentional killings or deaths caused by a reckless disregard for human life. This article provides a brief overview of Nebraska's first-degree murder law.

Code Section

Nebraska Revised Statute section 28-303: Murder in the First Degree

What's Prohibited?

Killing another person:
  • Purposely and with "deliberate" and "premeditated malice"
  • In the perpetration of (or attempt to perpetrate) any sexual assault in the first-degree, arson, robbery, kidnapping, hijacking of any public or private means of transportation, or burglary
  • By administering poison, or
  • By willfully committing perjury in order to procure the conviction and execution of an innocent person

Definition of "Deliberate"

"Deliberately" means not suddenly or rashly, and requires that the defendant considered the likely outcome of the act before acting.

Definition of "Premeditated Malice"

Premeditation means to have formed a design to commit an act before acting.

"Premeditated malice" means having formed the intent or determination to kill the victim without legal justification. No particular length of time is required, so long as the intent to kill is formed before the act is committed.


Either a Class I or Class IA felony.

  • A Class I felony in Nebraska is punishable by death.
  • A Class IA felony in Nebraska is punishable by life in prison.

See section 28-105 for more information about sentencing in Nebraska.

Felony Murder

In Nebraska, the felony murder rule applies to circumstances where someone dies during, or shortly after, certain felonies (first-degree sexual assault, robbery, kidnapping, hijacking, or burglary). Under this law, the offender who committed (or attempted to commit) the felony is also held responsible for the death as well.

These deaths are punishable as first-degree murder in Nebraska, and the offender doesn't need to be convicted of the underlying felony in order to be convicted of first-degree murder. Additionally, an offender can still be convicted of first-degree murder even if they didn't intent to kill anyone, the intent to commit the felony alone is sufficient.

For example, if Bob intentionally commits arson by willfully and maliciously burning another person's property, and someone dies in the fire as a result, then felony murder has been committed and Bob can be charged with first-degree murder.

Additional Resources

State laws change frequently and can be complicated. For case specific information contact a local criminal defense lawyer.

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