Murder charges are some of the most serious offenses a person could face in Arkansas. Depending on the circumstances and the specific charges, murder is a capital offense that could lead to the death penalty or life incarceration for the person convicted.
Those implicated in the recent death of another person will need to know the different kinds of murder charges that they might face under Arkansas law.
An accusation of capital murder often means that someone caused the death of another person during the commission of another offense. However, Arkansas can charge someone with capital murder when they planned and intentionally caused the death of someone, hired someone to kill a person or took payment to commit a murder. Someone who causes a death through extreme indifference could face capital murder charges if the situation involved a firearm or a child 14 years of age or younger.
First-degree murder involves causing the death of another person after intentionally planning for the killing. Causing a death while fleeing the scene of a felony offense can also lead to first-degree murder charges.
The main difference between first- and second-degree murder is advance planning. Someone accused of second-degree murder didn’t premeditate the crime. Instead, they intentionally killed someone after making a snap decision or unintentionally killed someone through their reckless disregard for human life.
Like second-degree murder, manslaughter involves causing the death of someone else without planning it ahead of time. However, there are certain secondary factors involved in the situation. Manslaughter charges could result from a murder committed during an extreme emotional reaction. It is also manslaughter to help someone else commit suicide. Negligence leading to death, especially if there was also a felony crime involved, could also lead to manslaughter charges.
Arkansas state law does not allow euthanasia, the practice of intentionally ending someone’s life in a compassionate medical way because of extreme suffering. Physician-assisted suicide is a Class C felony that results from intentionally causing a death or withholding life-sustaining medical care.
Some people call negligent homicide involuntary manslaughter. Such charges result when the negligent actions of one party directly but unintentionally cause the death of another person. Causing a drunk driving crash is a perfect example, as it is a known dangerous behavior but the person who got behind the wheel didn’t intend to cause a wreck.