What are the different levels of murder charges in Arkansas?

On Behalf of | Aug 21, 2023 | Violent Crimes |

Murder charges are among the most serious criminal charges a person can face. In Arkansas, the law classifies murder into varying degrees, each carrying its own set of criteria and potential penalties.

Understanding the differences between these levels is essential to grasp the severity of the charges and the possible outcomes.

Capital murder

Capital murder is the most severe murder charge in Arkansas. The courts can charge a person with capital murder if they intentionally cause the death of another person under specific circumstances. Some of these circumstances include:

  • Killing a law enforcement officer while they are performing their duties
  • Committing a murder during the course of another serious felony, such as robbery
  • Killing for hire

Capital murder can lead to the most severe penalties, including life imprisonment without the possibility of parole or even the death penalty.

First-degree murder

First-degree murder is a step down from capital murder but still carries severe consequences. The courts can charge a person with first-degree murder if they knowingly and with premeditation cause the death of another person. Unlike capital murder, first-degree murder does not require specific circumstances but rather focuses on the intent of the accused.

The penalties for first-degree murder typically include life imprisonment or a set number of years, depending on various factors related to the crime.

Second-degree murder

The courts consider second-degree murder less severe than the other types of murder because it does not involve premeditation. Instead, this charge applies when a person knowingly causes the death of another individual but without specific planning beforehand.

The penalties for second-degree murder in Arkansas are also less severe than those for capital or first-degree murder, typically involving a prison sentence ranging from a few years to several decades.

Murder charges in Arkansas are complex and carry grave consequences. If you or a loved one face murder charges, it is helpful to understand Arkansas law, so you can build the best defense possible.