List of punishments for murder in the United States

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Murder, as defined in common law countries, is the unlawful killing of another human being with intent (or malice aforethought), and generally this state of mind distinguishes murder from other forms of unlawful homicide (such as manslaughter). As the loss of a human being inflicts an enormous amount of grief for individuals close to the victim, as well as the fact that the commission of a murder permanently deprives the victim of their existence, most societies have considered it a very serious crime deserving of the harshest punishment available. Typically a convicted murder suspect is given a life sentence or even the death penalty for such an act. A person who commits murder is called a murderer, and the penalties, as outlined below, vary from state to state.

In 2012, the United States Supreme Court held in Miller v. Alabama that mandatory sentences of life without the possibility of parole are unconstitutional for juvenile offenders.[1][2]

Federal[edit]

Civilian[edit]

Source:[3]

Offense Mandatory sentencing
Second degree murder Life without parole or any other term

(There is no federal parole, U.S. sentencing guidelines offense level 38: 235–293 months with clean record, 30–life with serious past offenses)

Second degree murder by an inmate, even escaped, serving a life sentence Life imprisonment without parole
First degree murder Death or life imprisonment without parole

Military[edit]

Source:[4]

Offense Mandatory sentencing
Murder under UCMJ Article 118 Clause (2) or (3) (Second Degree Murder) Any legal punishment (other than death) as directed by the court-martial
Murder under UCMJ Article 118 Clause (1) or (4) (First Degree Murder) Death or life imprisonment

District of Columbia[edit]

Source: [5]

Offense Mandatory sentencing
Second degree murder Any number of years, but no more than 40 years, or life without parole
Second degree murder with aggravating circumstance Maximum or life without parole
First degree 30–60 years or life without parole
First degree murder with aggravating circumstance Life without parole or no less than 30 years
Murder of a law enforcement officer Life without parole

By states[edit]

Alabama[edit]

Source:[6]

Offense Mandatory sentencing
Manslaughter 2–20 years
Murder 10–99 years (20-99 years if using deadly weapon) or life with parole
Capital Murder Death or life without parole

Alaska[edit]

Source:[7]

Offense Mandatory sentencing
Second Degree Murder 5–99 years
First Degree Murder 20–99 years
First Degree Murder with aggravating factor 99 years without parole (can apply for one-time reduction after 49.5 years)

Arizona[edit]

Source:[8]

Offense Mandatory sentencing
Negligent Homicide Not less than 1 year nor more than 3.75 years (first violent felony offense)
Manslaughter Not less than 7 years nor more than 21 years (first violent felony offense)
Second Degree Murder Not less than 10 years nor more than 25 years (first violent felony offense)
Felony First Degree Murder Natural life imprisonment or 25 years to life
First Degree Murder Death or natural life imprisonment

Arkansas[edit]

Offense Mandatory sentencing
Second Degree Murder 6 to 30 years
First Degree Murder 10 to 40 years or life without parole
Capital Murder Death or life without parole

California[edit]

Source:[9] [10]

Offense Mandatory sentencing
Second Degree Murder 15 years to life
Murder of a law enforcement officer 25 years to life or life without parole
First Degree Murder 25 years to life (35-life if committed with a firearm)
First Degree Murder constituting a hate crime or of an operator or driver Life without parole or life with parole minimum of 30 to life
First Degree Murder with special circumstance Death or life without parole

Colorado[edit]

Offense Mandatory sentencing
Second Degree Murder 16–48 years (Followed by 5 Years Mandatory Parole)
First Degree Murder Life without parole (or death if crime occurred before July 1, 2020)

Connecticut[edit]

Offense Mandatory sentencing
Murder and Felony Murder 25 years to 60 years
Murder with special circumstances or murder committed during arson Life without parole

Delaware[edit]

Offense Mandatory sentencing
Second Degree Murder 15 years to life in prison
First Degree Murder Life Without Parole (see Capital punishment in Delaware)

Florida[edit]

Source:[11]

Offense Mandatory sentencing
Manslaughter Maximum of 15 years in prison; maximum of 30 years in prison if a firearm is used
Aggravated Manslaughter of a Child Maximum of 30 years in prison; maximum could be enhanced to life in prison if a firearm is used
Second Degree Murder Maximum of life in prison; Minimum of 25 years if a firearm is used, otherwise a minimum of 10 years under sentencing guidelines for a person with a clean record
First Degree Murder Death or life without parole

Georgia[edit]

Offense Mandatory sentencing
Involuntary Manslaughter 1–20 years or misdemeanor (up to 1 year, depending on the charge)
Voluntary Manslaughter 1–30 years
Second Degree Murder 10–30 years
Malice Murder & Felony Murder Death (Malice Murder only), life without parole, or life with parole eligibility after 30 years

Hawaii[edit]

Offense Mandatory sentencing
Second Degree Murder Life imprisonment with possibility of parole. There is enhanced sentencing for repeat offenders (HRS 706-606.5).
First Degree Murder Life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, with possible commuting of sentence by governor to life imprisonment with parole at the end of twenty years of imprisonment. (HRS §706-656) There is enhanced sentencing for repeat offenders. (HRS 706-606.5)

Idaho[edit]

Offense Mandatory Sentencing
Second Degree Murder Minimum of 10 years, maximum of life without parole
First Degree Murder Death, life without parole, or life (eligible for parole after a set number of years, but no less than 10)

Illinois[edit]

Offense Mandatory Sentencing
Second Degree Murder 4–20 years (Up to 4 years are probational)

Certain factors increase the maximum to 30 years (Up to 4 years are probational).

First Degree Murder 20–60 years (no parole), 45 years to life (if firearm used) (No parole), up to life without parole under certain aggravating circumstances.

Indiana[edit]

Offense Mandatory sentencing[12]
Murder Between 45 and 65 years
Murder with aggravating circumstances or killing of law enforcement Death or life without parole

Iowa[edit]

Offense Mandatory sentencing
Second Degree Murder 50 years with parole eligibility after 35 years
First/Second Degree Murder by a Person Previously Convicted of First/Second Degree Murder Life Without Parole
First Degree Murder Life Without Parole

Kansas[edit]

Offense Mandatory sentencing
Second Degree Murder (Unintentional) 9 - 41 years
Second Degree Murder (Intentional) 12.5 - 54 years
Felony First Degree Murder Life (minimum of 25 years)
Premeditated First Degree Murder Generally a sentence of 50 years to life. 25 years to life in some circumstances
Capital Murder Death or life without parole

Kentucky[edit]

Offense Mandatory sentencing
Murder Death, life without parole, life without parole for 25 years, life (minimum of 20 years), or 20 to 50 years
Voluntary Manslaughter 10 to 20 years imprisonment
Involuntary Manslaughter Five to ten years imprisonment
Reckless Homicide One to five years imprisonment

Louisiana[edit]

Offense Mandatory sentencing
Manslaughter Up to 40 years in prison
Second-degree murder Life without parole
First-degree murder Death or life without parole

Maine[edit]

Source:[13]

Offense Mandatory sentencing
Manslaughter 1–20 years
Felony Murder 1–30 years
Murder Life without parole or no less than 25 years

Maryland[edit]

Offense Mandatory sentencing
Involuntary Manslaughter Maximum of 10 years, up to 2.5 with no parole
Voluntary Manslaughter Maximum of 10 years, up to 5 with no parole
Second Degree Murder Maximum of 40 years, up to 20 with no parole
First Degree Murder Life with parole after 15 years or life without parole

Massachusetts[edit]

Offense Mandatory sentencing
Second Degree Murder Life with parole eligibility in 15-25 years (parole eligibility after 15 years if crime was committed before July 25, 2014)
First Degree Murder if under 18 Life with parole eligibility in 20-30 years[14]
First Degree Murder if 18 or older Life without parole

Michigan[edit]

Source:[15]

Offense Mandatory sentencing
Second Degree Murder Life (parole eligible after 15 years, eligible after 10 years for offenses committed before October 1, 1992) or any number of years[16]
First Degree Murder Life without parole. For juveniles, if mitigating factors exist the judge may set a minimum term of between 25 and 40 years before parole eligibility with a maximum term of at least 60 years.[17]

Minnesota[edit]

Offense Mandatory sentencing
Third Degree Murder Maximum of 25 years
Second Degree Murder Maximum of 40 years
First Degree Murder Life without parole or life with parole eligibility after 30 years

Mississippi[edit]

Offense Mandatory sentencing
Second Degree Murder Life (eligible parole at age 65) or no less than 20 years and no more than 40 years
First Degree Murder Life (eligible parole at age 65)
Capital Murder Death or life without parole

Missouri[edit]

Offense Mandatory sentencing
Second Degree Murder 10–30 years in prison or life (minimum of 30 years)
First Degree Murder Death or life without parole

Montana[edit]

Offense Mandatory sentencing
Mitigated Deliberate Homicide 2–40 years
Deliberate Homicide Death, life without parole, life (minimum of 30 years) or 10–100 years

Nebraska[edit]

Offense Mandatory sentencing
Second Degree Murder Minimum of 20 years and maximum of life
First Degree Murder Death or life without parole

Nevada[edit]

Offense Mandatory sentencing
Second Degree Murder Life (minimum of 10 years) or 25 years with parole eligibility after 10 years
First Degree Murder Death (aggravating circumstances), life without parole, life (minimum of 20 years), or 50 years with parole eligibility after 20 years

New Hampshire[edit]

Source:[18]

Offense Mandatory sentencing
Negligent Homicide Imprisonment for a term of not less than 3 1/2 years and not more than 7 years.
Causing or Aiding Suicide For causing a suicide or suicide attempt, imprisonment for a term of up to seven years in prison. For aiding or assisting in a suicide or suicide attempt without causing the suicide or attempt, up to one year in jail.[19][20]
Manslaughter Imprisonment for a term of not more than 30 years.
Second Degree Murder Life with parole or any number of years
First Degree Murder Life without parole
Capital Murder Life without parole (or death if crime occurred before May 30, 2019)

New Jersey[edit]

Offense Mandatory sentencing
Murder Minimum of 30 years and parole eligibility after serving 85% of the actual sentence. Maximum of 30 years to life or life without parole
Murder (with aggravating circumstances) Life without parole

New Mexico[edit]

Offense Mandatory sentencing
Involuntary Manslaughter Maximum of 3 years in prison
Voluntary Manslaughter Maximum of 6 years in prison
Second Degree Murder Maximum of 15 years in prison
First Degree Murder Life (minimum of 30 years) or no less than 30 years
First Degree Murder with aggravating circumstances Life without parole

New York[edit]

Offense Mandatory Sentencing
Second Degree Murder Life (minimum of 15-25 years)
First Degree Murder Life (minimum of 20-25 years) or life without parole
Aggravated Murder Life Imprisonment Without Parole

North Carolina[edit]

Offense Mandatory sentencing
Involuntary Manslaughter 13 months to 16 months (depending on prior record level)
Voluntary Manslaughter 51 months to 64 Months (depending on prior record level)
Second Degree Murder (Inherently Dangerous Act or by unlawful distribution of certain illicit substances) 94 months to 393 months (depending on prior record level)
Second Degree Murder 144 months to Life without Parole (depending on prior record level)
First Degree Murder Death or Life without Parole

North Dakota[edit]

Offense Mandatory sentencing
Murder committed under "extreme emotional disturbance" Maximum of 20 years
Murder Life without parole, life (minimum of 30 years), or any number of years

Ohio[edit]

Ohio differentiates between "Aggravated Murder" and "Murder." Aggravated Murder consists of purposely causing the death of another (or unlawful termination of a pregnancy) with prior calculation and design, or purposely causing the death of another under the age of 13, a law enforcement officer, or in the course of committing certain serious felony offenses. Murder consists of purposely causing the death of another, or causing the death of another as a proximate result of committing certain serious felony offenses.

Offense Mandatory sentencing
Involuntary Manslaughter 3 to 11 years (if underlying offense is a felony) 9 months to 3 years (if underlying offense is a misdemeanor)
Voluntary Manslaughter 3 to 11 years
Murder Life with parole eligibility after 15 years
Murder (victim under 13 years old or committed with sexual motivation) 30 years to life and up to life without parole
Aggravated Murder Life without parole, life with parole eligibility after 20, 25, or 30 years
Aggravated Murder (with capital specification for certain aggravating factors such as special victims, murder-for-hire, multiple victims, witness as victim, committed in the course of another serious felony offense) Death, life without parole, life with parole eligibility after 25 or 30 years

Oklahoma[edit]

Offense Mandatory sentencing
Second Degree Murder Life with parole or not less than 10 years
First Degree Murder Death, life without parole, or life with parole eligibility after 38 years however, suspension of sentence is possible

Oregon[edit]

Offense Mandatory sentencing
Murder Life (minimum of 25 years) or not less than 25 years
First degree murder Life without parole or life (minimum of 30 years)
Aggravated Murder Death, life without parole, or life (minimum of 30 years)

Pennsylvania[edit]

Offense Mandatory sentence
Third Degree Murder 20–40 years, 5–40 years in the case of person dying from using drugs delivered to them
Second Degree Murder Life without parole however with possibility of getting sentence commuted by governor
First Degree Murder Death or Life without parole however with possibility of getting sentence commuted by governor

Rhode Island[edit]

Offense Mandatory sentence
Second Degree Murder Life (parole eligibility after 25 years; parole eligibility after 20 years if crime was committed before July 1, 2015) or no less than 10 years (eligible for parole after serving half the sentence)
First Degree Murder Life without parole or life (parole eligibility after 25 years; parole eligibility after 20 years if crime was committed before July 1, 2015)

South Carolina[edit]

Offense Mandatory sentencing
Involuntary Manslaughter Maximum of 5 years
Voluntary Manslaughter Maximum of 30 years
Murder Death, Life without parole, or no less than 30 years

South Dakota[edit]

Offense Mandatory sentencing
First Degree Manslaughter Maximum of life without parole
Second Degree Murder Life without parole
First Degree Murder Death or life without parole

Tennessee[edit]

Offense Mandatory sentencing
Second Degree Murder 15-60 years
First Degree Murder Death, life without parole, or life (minimum of 51 years)[21]

Texas[edit]

Offense Mandatory sentencing[22]
Murder 5 to 99 years (eligible for parole half the sentence or 30 years, whichever is less) or life (minimum of 30 years)
Capital murder Death or life without parole (Parole eligible after 40 years if under 18)

Utah[edit]

Offense Mandatory sentencing

(Parole Eligibility Determined by Parole Board)

Murder or felony murder 15 years to life
Aggravated murder Death penalty, life without parole, or 25 years to life

Vermont[edit]

Source:[23]

Offense Mandatory sentencing
Second Degree Murder if mitigating factors outweigh any aggravating factors Life (minimum of 10-20 years)
Second Degree Murder Life (minimum of 20 years)
Second Degree Murder if aggravating factors outweigh any mitigating factors Life (minimum of any number of years, but not less than 20 years) or life without parole
First Degree Murder if mitigating factors outweigh any aggravating factors Life (minimum of 15-35 years)
First Degree Murder Life (minimum of 35 years)
First Degree Murder if aggravating factors outweigh any mitigating factors Life (minimum of any number of years, but not less than 35 years) or life without parole
Aggravated Murder Life without parole

Virginia[edit]

Offense Mandatory sentencing
Second Degree Murder 5–40 years[24]
Felony Murder 5–40 years
First Degree Murder Between 20 years and life imprisonment (parole eligibility for life sentence if crime committed before January 1, 1995: 15 years or 20 years if sentenced to more than 1 life sentence, 25 years if the victim was under the age of 8) (Prisoners are eligible for geriatric parole when they turn 60.) Suspension of sentence is possible which means that the defendant may serve a portion of the sentence in jail and spend rest on probation
Capital Murder Death or Life Without Parole (Ineligible for geriatric parole) (Judge can use discretion to suspend portion of life sentence.)

Washington[edit]

Offense Mandatory sentence
Second Degree Murder 10 to 18 years imprisonment (if the defendant has no criminal record)
First Degree Murder 20 years to life. Standard sentence without criminal record is 20–26 years. Special circumstances may increase the number of years to an equivalent sentence of life imprisonment
Aggravated First Degree Murder Life Without Parole

West Virginia[edit]

Source:[25]

Offense Mandatory sentencing
Second Degree Murder 10–40 years
First Degree Murder Life without parole or 15 years to life

Wisconsin[edit]

Offense Mandatory sentencing
Second Degree Intentional Homicide Minimum of 15, Maximum of 60 years
First Degree Intentional Homicide Minimum of 20 years to Life, Life imprisonment without parole

Wyoming[edit]

Source:[26]

Offense Mandatory sentencing
Manslaughter Maximum of 20 years
Second Degree Murder Minimum of 20 years, maximum of life
First Degree Murder Death, life without parole, or life (can be paroled by governor)

References[edit]

  1. ^ Savage, David G. (25 June 2012). "Supreme Court rules mandatory juvenile life without parole cruel and unusual". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 26 June 2012.
  2. ^ Cohen, Andrew (26 June 2012). "If You Think Monday Was Bad at the Supreme Court ..." The Atlantic. Retrieved 26 June 2012.
  3. ^ "Title 18 - CRIMES AND CRIMINAL PROCEDURE :: 2010 US Code :: US Codes and Statutes :: US Law :: Justia". Law.justia.com. 2011-01-07. Retrieved 2012-08-02.
  4. ^ "10 USC § 918 - Art. 118. Murder | LII / Legal Information Institute". Law.cornell.edu. Retrieved 2012-08-02.
  5. ^ "D.C. Law Library - § 22–2104. Penalty for murder in first and second degrees". code.dccouncil.us. Retrieved 2020-10-08.
  6. ^ alabamacriminalandfamilylawyerblog.com
  7. ^ "Alaska Statutes: AS 12.55.125. Sentences of Imprisonment For Felonies". Touchngo.com. Retrieved 2012-08-02.
  8. ^ "Arizona Vehicular Crimes - Phoenix AZ Criminal Lawyers - Gillespie Law Firm". Craiggillespie.com. Retrieved 2012-08-02.
  9. ^ "CA Codes (pen:187-199)". Leginfo.ca.gov. 1997-01-01. Archived from the original on 2009-05-12. Retrieved 2012-08-02.
  10. ^ {nik {cite web|url=http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displayText.xhtml?lawCode=PEN&division=&title=8.&part=1.&chapter=1.&article= |title=CA LegInfo Code Search |publisher=leginfo.legislature.ca.gov |date=c. 2015 |accessdate=2016-03-18}}
  11. ^ "782.04(2)". Florida legislature.
  12. ^ "Indiana Death Penalty Laws". Clarkprosecutor.org. Retrieved 2012-08-02.
  13. ^ "§1251 — Imprisonment for murder :: Chapter 51 — SENTENCES OF IMPRISONMENT (§1251 - §1258) :: TITLE 17-A — MAINE CRIMINAL CODE :: 2005 Maine Code :: Maine Code :: US Codes and Statutes :: US Law :: Justia". Law.justia.com. Retrieved 2012-08-02.
  14. ^ "Mandatory life without parole for juveniles: A state-by-state look at sentencing". The Wasshington times. Associated press. July 31, 2017.
  15. ^ "Michigan Legislature - 328-1931-XLV =Legislature.mi.gov". 2010-10-31. Retrieved 2012-08-02.
  16. ^ "Michigan Legislature - Section 791.234". www.legislature.mi.gov. Retrieved 2019-12-04.
  17. ^ "Michigan Legislature - Section 769.25". www.legislature.mi.gov. Retrieved 2019-12-04.
  18. ^ "New Hampshire Statutes - Table of Contents". Gencourt.state.nh.us. Retrieved 2012-08-02.
  19. ^ "New Hampshire Statutes, Sec. 630:4 Causing or Aiding Suicide". New Hampshire General Court. Retrieved 18 July 2017.
  20. ^ Cohen, Jonathan (2007). "The Student Guide To N.H. Criminal Law" (PDF). Franklin Pierce University. Archived from the original (PDF) on 21 May 2013. Retrieved 18 July 2017.
  21. ^ https://tnsocialjustice.wordpress.com/2014/07/08/51-years-the-new-life-without-parole/
  22. ^ "PENAL CODE CHAPTER 12. PUNISHMENTS". Statutes.legis.state.tx.us. Retrieved 2012-08-02.
  23. ^ "§ 2303. — Penalties for first and second degree murder :: Chapter 53 — HOMICIDE (contains §§ 2301 – 2311) :: Title 13 — Crimes and Criminal Procedure :: 2005 Vermont Code :: Vermont Code :: US Codes and Statutes :: US Law :: Justia". Law.justia.com. Retrieved 2012-08-02.
  24. ^ "First and second degree murder defined; punishment". Retrieved 1 August 2012.
  25. ^ "§61-2-2. — Penalty for murder of first degree. :: CHAPTER 61. — CRIMES AND THEIR PUNISHMENT :: 2005 West Virginia Code :: West Virginia Code :: US Codes and Statutes :: US Law :: Justia". Law.justia.com. Retrieved 2012-08-02.
  26. ^ "Chapter 2 - Offenses Against The Person :: Title 6 - Crimes And Offenses :: 2010 Wyoming Statutes :: Wyoming Statutes :: US Codes and Statutes :: US Law :: Justia". Law.justia.com. 2010-07-01. Retrieved 2012-08-02.

Bibliography[edit]

External links[edit]