In New Hampshire, there are five types of criminal homicide: capital murder, first-degree murder, second-degree murder, manslaughter, and negligent manslaughter. This article provides a brief overview of New Hampshire's second-degree murder law.
First-Degree Murder vs. Second-Degree Murder?
While the precise definitions of first-degree murder and second-degree murder differ slightly between states, the key distinction is generally whether or not the killing was committed with premeditation (or planning). First-degree murder is ordinary defined as an unlawful killing that is both willful and premeditated.
On the other hand, second-degree murder is an unplanned intentional killing, or a killing that is caused by a reckless disregard for human life. The table below outlines the specifics of New Hampshire's second-degree murder law.
|New Hampshire Revised Statutes section 630:1-b: Second Degree Murder
- Knowingly causing the death of another, or
- Causing such death recklessly under circumstances manifesting an extreme indifference to the value of human life
|Recklessness and indifference are presumed if the offender causes the death by the use of a deadly weapon in the commission of, in an attempt to commit, or in the immediate flight after committing or attempting to commit a class A felony.
|Second-degree murder is punishable by imprisonment for life, or for a term that the court orders.
Second-Degree Murder vs. Manslaughter
It must be noted that, under some circumstances, an intentional killing that would otherwise constitute second-degree murder will instead be classified as the lesser crime of manslaughter in New Hampshire. If the killing is committed while the offender is under the influence of an extreme mental or emotional disturbance caused by extreme provocation, then the offender is guilty of manslaughter rather than second-degree murder. For example, if a husband comes home and finds his wife in bed with her lover and the husband kills the lover in the heat of passion, the court may find that the husband acted under an emotional disturbance sufficient to classify the killing as manslaughter.
State laws change frequently. For case specific information regarding New Hampshire's second-degree murder law contact a local criminal defense lawyer.