Second-degree murder charges in Rhode Island
Second Degree Murder is any other murder that is not Murder in the First Degree. Generally speaking, the critical difference between First Degree Murder and Second Degree Murder is existence of premeditation. This is more clearly described as the time between the formation of the intent to kill and the killing itself.
If a person’s conscious intent or design to kill existed only momentarily or fleetingly before he or she committed the fatal act, it is characterized as Second Degree Murder. On the other hand, if the defendant thought about it, knew it was wrong, planned it, still committed the murder anyway, such is characterized as First Degree Murder. In Rhode Island, Second Degree Murder may be found at Rhode Island General Laws, Section 11-23-1.
Legal elements of second-degree murder
In order to be convicted of Second-Degree Murder, there must exist strong evidence of the following legal elements:
- that the defendant willfully caused the death of another person and
- that the defendant acted with malice.
Malice may be express or implied. An act is committed with malice when it is committed with wanton disregard for the probability of death or great bodily harm. Malice can arise from either an express intent to kill or to inflict great bodily harm, or it may be implied from wanton recklessness and an extreme indifference to the sanctity of human life. Express malice may be based upon a settled design against or upon a victim, and it may be implied or inferred from all of the surrounding circumstances, including the means by which death occurred.
Potential punishment if convicted of second-degree murder in Rhode Island
Under Rhode Island criminal law, Second Degree Murder is a felony offense that is punishable by not less than 10 years and up to life imprisonment. This penalty may be found at Rhode Island General Laws, Section 11-23-2.
Bail for defendants charged with second degree murder in Rhode Island
Like First Degree Murder, Second Degree Murder in Rhode Island is also considered a capital offense. Article I, Section 9 of the Rhode Island Constitution provides that were proof of guilt is evident or the presumption of guilt is great as to a capital offense, the Court may order that a defendant remain held without bail while awaiting trial.
If the prosecution asks that the defendant charged with a capital offense be held, the Court shall order a hold without bail. If the defendant is held without bail, or he or she is subject to an evidentiary bail hearing. A bail hearing is a forward-looking hearing where the prosecution bears the burden of establishing through trial admissible evidence that proof of the defendant’s guilt is evident or the presumption of his guilt is great with regard to a charged capital offense (i.e. murder).
If the prosecution fails to meet its burden, the Court must release the defendant on bail. If the prosecution meets its burden, the Court may exercise its discretion to either set bail or order that the defendant remain held while awaiting trial, after considering the defendant’s community ties, reputation for respecting the law, flight risk, and severity of sentence to be imposed, if convicted, after trial.
If you have been charged with a Second Degree Murder offense and need representation, contact the Rhode Island Murder Defense Lawyers at the Law Office of John L. Calcagni III email or call today at (401) 351-5100 to schedule a free consultation.