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Washington Second Degree Murder Law

When a person kills someone, regardless of intent or other details surrounding the incident, it is generally called a homicide. Specifically, murder is when a person knowingly and purposefully kills another person or causes substantial bodily harm that the person later dies due to the injuries that were inflicted.

Second-Degree Murder in Washington

A charge of intentional murder represents the most serious allegation a person can face under Washington law. You can be guilty of second-degree murder if you intentionally kill another person, but do so without any premeditation. Typically this type of murder happens in the heat of the moment.

Felony Murder

Second degree murder is also when a person commits a felony and someone dies as the crime is taking place. This is often referred to as "felony murder." For a charge of felony murder, the State doesn't need to prove that the killing was intentional, but merely a consequence of committing some other felony.

Example of Felony Murder

For example, let's say Thelma decides to rob a bank. Her friend Louise tags along and agrees to drive the getaway car. As luck may have it, the police intervene and thwart the robbery. Thelma runs out of the bank in a frenzy, makes off with what loot she has, and jumps into the Louise's car. If Louise accidentally runs over a pedestrian while trying to flee from the police, that is felony murder. Louise didn't intend to kill the pedestrian, but she did it while committing a serious felony.

Statute of Limitations

Most states have enacted laws which limit the time in which crimes can be prosecuted. These time limits are referred to as "statute of limitations." Once the statute of limitations has expired, a prosecutor cannot bring charges against a person for that particular crime.

However, because of the nature and seriousness of homicide-related crimes, Washington does not have a time limit on murder cases. That means if you've killed someone, you can be charged with that crime at any time in your life.

The following table highlights the main provisions of Washington's second-degree murder laws. See also Voluntary Manslaughter, Involuntary Manslaughter, Second Degree Murder Defenses, and Second Degree Murder Penalties and Sentencing.

Code Sections

RCW 9A.32.050

What is Prohibited

See Above Definitions

Felony Murder

If the homicide (killing of a human) took place in conjunction with a certain felony crimes, such as robbery, burlgary, etc.


Second Degree Murder: Class A Felony, Maximum of life without the possibility of parole and a fine.

Civil Case

Possible Wrongful Death lawsuit

Every criminal charge has long-lasting consequences, and some of them even put your life at stake. Make sure to do all you can to protect yourself by getting a skillrf trial lawyer on your side. If you do find yourself facing a second-degree murder charge in Washington, consider contacting a criminal defense attorney for assistance.

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