Unlike a misdemeanor charge, which is minor in the United States, a felony is a much more serious matter. The felony murder rule in Pennsylvania is split into different categories, depending on the fault of the perpetrator.
The laws concerning murder in the United States are highly complex and are divided according to the severity of the crime. According to Findlaw’s article on Pennsylvania first degree murder laws, a criminal homicide consists of three degrees of murder and two types of manslaughter. Officials in the state distinguish manslaughter and murder through what is called “proof of malice.” The court determines this step in the conviction process through the prosecutors proof of the defendant’s general intent to commit an unlawful act or achieve a harmful result. Defenses of first-degree murder charges include but are not limited to: mental insanity, accidental killing without criminal intent and diminished capacity, in which the defendant lacks the mental capacity to strategically kill another individual.
Certain circumstances can lead to dire consequences when it comes to a murder charge, but it is important to understand the details of each law concerning such a case. The Death Penalty Information Center is a national non-profit organization that provides analysis and information regarding capital punishment. In Pennsylvania, and in the rest of the United States, avoiding a death penalty trial can save hundreds of thousands of dollars. The judicial system is currently reconsidering the ways officials handle the death penalty, as many defendants have bargained with the court after giving information leading to the discovery of additional victims or murders, in return avoiding a death sentence.