Murder is the deliberate act of taking a human life with the intention of taking a life. It is a crime. In most criminal law systems, it is the most or one of the most serious crimes, and is subject to the greatest punishments. In many places, it is still a capital offence. However, all systems allow the penalty of life imprisonment for murder.

Most criminal law systems have different degrees of murder, which are deliniated by statute. Second-degree murder is usually the least severe and covers any type of murder. It usually carries a lesser minimum penalty, or the possibility of parole at an earlier date. First-degree murder is generally a murder where there are aggravating factors deliniated by the statute, such as:

  • Murder of a law enforcement officer or prison guard;
  • Murder in the commission of a felony;
  • Mass murder;
  • Murder of a child;

and so forth. The factors that may support a charge of first-degree murder are generally different from place to place.

The related concept in civil law is wrongful death, which encompasses a much wider range of actions.

See also