There are two different degrees of murder charges in Colorado: first degree murder and second degree murder. If you are being accused of murder, it’s important to understand the difference between these two crimes. Here’s what you need to know:

The Difference Between These Two Crimes

There are several different forms of first degree murder in Colorado. But, the most common form of first degree murder involves the intentional and premeditated killing of another person. This means the victim’s death was not an accident–it was deliberate and planned.

Second degree murder, on the other hand, does not involve premeditation. Even though a second degree murder is not planned in advance, it is still deliberate. This crime is often committed in the heat of the moment, such as when an argument between two people escalates and leads to violence.

Penalties For First and Second Degree Murder

Another difference between these two crimes is the penalties they carry. First degree murder is a class 1 felony, whereas second degree murder is a class 3 felony. Anyone who is convicted of first degree murder in Colorado will face either life in prison or the death penalty. However, the death penalty is very rarely used in the state of Colorado, so life in prison is a far more common sentence. In fact, the death penalty has only been used once within the last half-decade.

If you are convicted of first degree murder, it will be up to the jury to decide whether you are sentenced to death or life in prison. This decision will be made during your sentencing hearing. Every member of the jury must support the decision to send the defendant to death row or the defendant will receive life in prison instead.

Fortunately, the death penalty is not a possibility for those who are convicted of second degree murder. These defendants will face up to $1 million in fines and between 16-48 years in prison. It will be up to the judge to determine how many years you will spend behind bars. The judge will consider a number of factors when making this decision, including your prior criminal record and the nature of the crime.

Have you been charged with murder? Do not put your future in the hands of an inexperienced attorney. Trust the criminal defense attorneys at Reisch Law Firm to fight for your freedom. Schedule a free consultation today by calling 303-291-0555 or filling out this online form.