A murder is said to be in the first degree if it is:
- a deliberate, premeditated, and willful killing
- committed by lying in wait;
- committed by poison; or
- committed in the perpetration of or an attempt to perpetrate:
- arson in the first degree;
- burning a barn, stable, tobacco house, warehouse, or other outbuilding that:
- is not parcel to a dwelling; and
- contains cattle, goods, wares, merchandise, horses, grain, hay, or tobacco;
burglary in the first, second, or third degree; carjacking or armed carjacking; escape in the first degree from a State correctional facility or a local correctional facility; kidnapping mayhem; rape; robbery sexual offense in the first or second degree; Sodomy Violation of law by manufacturing and in possession of explosive or destructive material
A person found guilty of murder in the first degree is punished with a death sentence or life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. However, a person who is attempting to commit murder in the first degree may be punished with imprisonment for life.
The law states that murder, which does not fall under the murder in first degree, may be a murder in second degree.A person convicted for murder in second degree may be put to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 30 years. An attempt to commit murder of the second degree may be is penalized with the same punishment as the offence is committed.
- A manslaughter case may be made out when a murder takes place due to sudden provocation made by the deceased mitigating the defendant to do such crime. The law specifically provides that a spousal adultery is not a mitigating factor.
- The penalty for the manslaughter may be imprisonment for a term not exceeding 10 years, or imprisonment in a local correctional facility for a term not exceeding 2 year or a fine not exceeding $500 or with both.
- If manslaughter is committed by means of vehicle or vessel the person committing the offence may be convicted with imprisonment not exceeding 10 years or with fine not exceeding $5,000.
A sentence for death may be imposed for the first degree murder only if:
- the state government gives written notice to the defendant 30 days prior to trial stating the state intention to so to do, and each aggravating circumstance on which the state rely,
- the defendant was a principal in the crime,
- incase the victim was a law enforcement officer in that case the defendant is either
- principal in the first degree murder, or
- principal in the second degree murder who willfully, deliberately, and with premeditation intended the death of the law enforcement officer and was a major participant in the murder and was actually present at the time of the murder