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Nebraska Second-Degree Murder

Criminal homicide in Nebraska is broken down into several separate crimes including first-degree murder, second-degree murder, manslaughter (voluntary and involuntary), and motor vehicle homicide. This article provides a brief overview of Nebraska's second-degree murder law.

What's the Difference Between First and Second Degree Murder?

In most states, first-degree murder covers two categories of homicide: premeditated intentional killings and felony murder. Then, second-degree murder encompasses unplanned intentional killings, and deaths caused by a reckless disregard for human life. In most instances the key difference is premeditation.

In Nebraska, first-degree murder is committed when a person is killed under one of the following circumstances:

  • Purposely and with deliberate and premeditated malice
  • In the perpetration of (or attempted perpetration of) 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

Second-degree murder in Nebraska acts as a catchall for murders that are committed intentionally but without premeditation, and is outlined in the chart below.

Code Section

Nebraska Revised Statutes section 28-304: Murder in the Second Degree
What's Prohibited?

Intentionally causing the death of another, but without premeditation.

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


Class IB felony that is punishable by a minimum sentence of 20 years in prison and a maximum sentence of life in prison.

The Element of Malice

In most states, the key difference between murder and manslaughter is the element of malice (or the intention or desire to cause serious bodily injury or death). Both are types of criminal homicide, however, murder is the unlawful killing of another with malice under certain circumstances, while manslaughter is the unlawful killing of another without malice.

However, Nebraska's second-degree murder statute doesn't explicitly state that malice is a required element of the crime. In the case of State v. Redmond the court held that malice isn't a necessary element of second-degree murder in Nebraska. So long as the offender intentionally causes the death of another without premeditation then, in Nebraska, second-degree murder has been committed.

Additional Resources

State laws change frequently. For case specific information contact a local criminal defense lawyer.

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