Difference Between Capital Murder and First Degree Murder

Main difference

To look at it from a very basic point of view, capital murder and first degree murder can be considered the same crime. However, if one digs deeper into these topics, then the very fine difference between the two can be understood. Murder in the first degree is that type of murder that has been premeditated, that is, the murderer has planned the murder very carefully and then has plotted his target in such a way that he falls into the trap. This is a well thought out and well crafted attack strategy. On the other hand, Capital Murder is any degree of murder that can only be punished with the death penalty. It doesn’t matter if the murder was planned in advance or accidental if you are being sentenced to death, it is Capital Murder.

Difference table

Base capital murder first degree murder
Intention The intent may or may not be predefined. The intent is predefined.
Team The assassin may or may not carry the tool necessary to successfully carry out the assassination. The assassin is mostly very well equipped or at least has the best possible assassin item for the target.
Punishment All Capital Murderers are definitely sentenced to the death penalty. All first degree murderers cannot be sentenced to death.
Relevance All capital murders are not necessarily called first degree murders. All first degree murders have the potential to be called capital murders.
Intensity All capital murders are definitely very high intensity. Not all first degree murders are very high intensity.

What is Capital Murder?

Murdering someone is a sinful crime that cannot be forgiven. While there are certain murders that are totally intentional, some accidents also lead to murder. There have been many cases where a murder has been committed, but all by mistake, so the judiciary may be kind enough to grant a life sentence or the penalties alike. But there are certain murders that should be punished with the death penalty and those murders are known as capital murders. They have nothing to do with the type of murder, the choice of weapon, or the motive for the murder. If the judiciary has decided that this is a capital murder, then it is.

What is first degree murder?

First degree murder is the type where the entire crime scene has been retraced from an idea or plan. This type of murder depends entirely on the intentions and preparation of the murderer. There may or may not be a high level of determination in the killer to make the act final. But still, if a murder was planned in advance and then executed, then it must be considered first degree murder. For example, a man has planned to poison his enemy and succeeds in carrying it out, the murder will be called Murder in the first degree, since it was fully planned in advance.

Key differences

  1. While both capital murder and first degree murder may seem very similar, the most basic difference between the two is that first degree murder is always planned in advance, but capital murder may just be a reflex at a specific time.
  2. Capital murder is the highest level of crime, as it is murder that has been deemed so inhumane by the judiciary that the only punishment is the death penalty. On the other hand, first degree murder may or may not be serious enough to be considered capital murder.
  3. The main objective of punishing a criminal is to protect the masses from the dangers of that person. So the punishment for first degree murder can range from a long prison term to life in prison and death as well. But the punishment for Capital Murder is always death.
  4. Since most first-degree murders carry the death penalty, it would not be wrong to quote that primarily “all first-degree murders are capital murders, but not all capital murders are first-degree murders.”
  5. A first degree murder can be very well planned with the opportunity to allow the killer to practice well, but a capital murder can happen by reflex, and the killer may not be ready at all.
  6. A Capital Murder is very high intensity, and therefore is threatened with the death penalty. But a murder in the first degree cannot be very cruel and inhumane in its intensity.
  7. First degree murder is a very deliberate act and thus the murderer could even escape conviction with a quick move, while a capital murder is so named only after the conviction of the culprit.

Final Thought

So we see that there is a very thin layer of difference between Capital Murder and First Degree Murder, but at the same time it is very important to know how the law has constructed and structured the two differently.

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