Difference Between First Degree Murder and Second Degree Murder

Main difference

Murders according to the law and the judicial system throughout the world are mainly classified into three types or levels. These types or levels are based on the nature of the murder, the intention of the murderer, the weapon used, etc. These three levels are Murder in the First Degree, Murder in the Second Degree, and Murder in the Third Degree. There is also a fourth degree of murder, but it is often classified in the third degree in most countries of the world. The basic difference between first degree and second degree murder is that first degree murder is intentional planned murder while second degree murder is intentional unplanned murder that has occurred as a result of any crime or fight in the place etc

Comparison chart

first degree murder second degree murder


The intentional murder of a person with a pre-planned scenario and deliberation is classified as first degree murder. The intentional killing of a person on the spot due to a sudden uneven situation or a fight. There is no planning involved in that. This type of murder is classified in the second degree of murder.

Penalty fee

Death penalty or life imprisonment. Life sentence or 10 years life imprisonment.


The ways and means that planning involves, such as the use of a weapon, torture, blackmail, bombing, poisoning, etc. Since murders committed on the spot by unequal situations are classified as second degree murders; they can involve any means or weapon available at the time.

Plan Participation

First degree murder always involves a planned approach. Pre-planned kills are classified under Plan Implication. Second degree murders do not involve any planning. They are attempted on the ground based on that particular situation.

special circumstances

In various countries around the world, murder is considered first degree murder when it is accompanied by external or internal means, accompanied by a group of people or helpers, etc. As for 2nd degree murder, there are no special circumstances as such that are involved in its categorization. The main focus is on the intentions and the situation in which the assassination was attempted.


First degree murders are considered to be more intense as they are planned in advance and carried out intentionally and deliberately. The intensity of second-degree murder depends on the situation in which it is attempted.

What is first degree murder?

In various court systems and countries around the world, the laws are different to deal with specific types of crimes depending on the region, religion and culture. In the United States, a murder is considered first-degree murder if the planning intentionally kills a person. In other words, we can say that murder is classified as first degree murder when it is committed intentionally and with due deliberation and planning. In various regions of the US and other countries in North America and Europe due to some special circumstances along with the element of planning the murder could be classified as first degree murder. For example, a group of people killing someone collectively, or torture before murder, blackmail, etc. In simpler words,

What is second degree murder?

Although murder is murder in its nature and the murder of someone cannot be justified in any way, but because of the intensity of the murder, the nature of the circumstances at the scene and various other reasons why the murders are further classified as a second and third degree murder. . All kinds of murders that are committed without planning, due to contradictory reasons or fights on the ground, are classified as second-degree murder. In various countries and states around the world, second degree murderer is given a bit of relaxation and freedom compared to first degree murderer, as most of the time, if proven, life imprisonment or death penalty is the only punishment for that.

Murder in the first degree versus murder in the second degree

  • All pre-planned and intentional murders are classified as first degree murders.
  • Unplanned murder, murder due to particular circumstances and situations are classified as second degree murder.
  • The punishment for first degree murder is life in prison or death.
  • The punishment for second-degree murder is life in prison or 10 years in prison.

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