Murder
Overview
Murder is the unlawful killing, with malice aforethought
Malice aforethought
Malice aforethought is the "premeditation" or "predetermination" that was required as an element of some crimes in some jurisdictions, and a unique element for first-degree or aggravated murder in a few.-Legal history:...

, of another human being, and generally this state of mind distinguishes murder from other forms of unlawful homicide
Homicide
Homicide refers to the act of a human killing another human. Murder, for example, is a type of homicide. It can also describe a person who has committed such an act, though this use is rare in modern English...

 (such as manslaughter
Manslaughter
Manslaughter is a legal term for the killing of a human being, in a manner considered by law as less culpable than murder. The distinction between murder and manslaughter is said to have first been made by the Ancient Athenian lawmaker Dracon in the 7th century BC.The law generally differentiates...

). As the loss of a human being inflicts enormous grief upon the individuals close to the victim, as well as the fact that the commission of a murder is highly detrimental to the good order within society, most societies both present and in antiquity have considered it a most serious crime worthy of the harshest of punishment.
Timeline

1862    Indian Wars: In Minnesota, 303 Dakota warriors are found guilty of rape and murder of whites and are sentenced to hang. 38 are ultimately executed and the others reprieved.

1878    John Tunstall is murdered by outlaw Jessie Evans, sparking the Lincoln County War in Lincoln County, New Mexico.

1935    A jury in Flemington, New Jersey finds Bruno Hauptmann guilty of the 1932 kidnapping and murder of the Lindbergh baby, the son of Charles Lindbergh.

1962    Arthur Lucas, convicted of murder, is the last person to be executed in Canada.

1977    The Red Army Faction trial ends, with Andreas Baader, Gudrun Ensslin and Jan-Carl Raspe found guilty of four counts of murder and more than 30 counts of attempted murder.

1981    Vice President Hosni Mubarak is elected as the President of Egypt one week after the assassination murder of the President of Egypt, Anwar Sadat. As of June 1, 2010, Mr. Mubarak is still the President of Egypt, having been re-elected several times.

1985    Serial killer Richard Ramirez, aka the "Night Stalker", commits the first two murders in his Los Angeles, California murder spree.

1992    In New York, Mafia boss John Gotti is convicted of murder and racketeering and is later sentenced to life in prison.

1995    Colin Ferguson is convicted of six counts of murder for the December 1993 Long Island Rail Road shootings and later receives a 200+ year sentence.

1997    In Denver, Colorado, Timothy McVeigh is convicted on 15 counts of murder and conspiracy for his role in the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

Encyclopedia
Murder is the unlawful killing, with malice aforethought
Malice aforethought
Malice aforethought is the "premeditation" or "predetermination" that was required as an element of some crimes in some jurisdictions, and a unique element for first-degree or aggravated murder in a few.-Legal history:...

, of another human being, and generally this state of mind distinguishes murder from other forms of unlawful homicide
Homicide
Homicide refers to the act of a human killing another human. Murder, for example, is a type of homicide. It can also describe a person who has committed such an act, though this use is rare in modern English...

 (such as manslaughter
Manslaughter
Manslaughter is a legal term for the killing of a human being, in a manner considered by law as less culpable than murder. The distinction between murder and manslaughter is said to have first been made by the Ancient Athenian lawmaker Dracon in the 7th century BC.The law generally differentiates...

). As the loss of a human being inflicts enormous grief upon the individuals close to the victim, as well as the fact that the commission of a murder is highly detrimental to the good order within society, most societies both present and in antiquity have considered it a most serious crime worthy of the harshest of punishment. In most countries, a person convicted of murder is typically given a long prison sentence, possibly a life sentence where permitted, and in some countries, the death penalty may be imposed for such an act — though this practice is becoming less common. In most countries, there is no statute of limitations
Statute of limitations
A statute of limitations is an enactment in a common law legal system that sets the maximum time after an event that legal proceedings based on that event may be initiated...

 for murder (no time limit for prosecuting someone for murder). A person who commits murder is called a murderer .

Legal analysis of murder

William Blackstone
William Blackstone
Sir William Blackstone KC SL was an English jurist, judge and Tory politician of the eighteenth century. He is most noted for writing the Commentaries on the Laws of England. Born into a middle class family in London, Blackstone was educated at Charterhouse School before matriculating at Pembroke...

 (citing Edward Coke
Edward Coke
Sir Edward Coke SL PC was an English barrister, judge and politician considered to be the greatest jurist of the Elizabethan and Jacobean eras. Born into a middle class family, Coke was educated at Trinity College, Cambridge before leaving to study at the Inner Temple, where he was called to the...

), in his Commentaries on the Laws of England
Commentaries on the Laws of England
The Commentaries on the Laws of England are an influential 18th-century treatise on the common law of England by Sir William Blackstone, originally published by the Clarendon Press at Oxford, 1765–1769...

set out the common law
Common law
Common law is law developed by judges through decisions of courts and similar tribunals rather than through legislative statutes or executive branch action...

 definition of murder, which by this definition occurs
The elements of common law murder are:
  1. Unlawful
  2. killing
  3. of a human being
  4. with malice aforethought.


The Unlawful-This distinguishes murder from killings that are done within the boundaries of law, such as an execution or the killing of enemy soldiers during a war
War
War is a state of organized, armed, and often prolonged conflict carried on between states, nations, or other parties typified by extreme aggression, social disruption, and usually high mortality. War should be understood as an actual, intentional and widespread armed conflict between political...

.

Killing—At common law life ended with cardiopulmonary arrest—the total and permanent cessation of blood circulation and respiration. With advances in medical technology courts have adopted irreversible cessation of all brain function as marking the end of life.

of a human being—This element presents the issue of when life begins. At common law a foetus was not a human being. Life began when the foetus passed through the birth canal and took its first breath.

by another human being—at early common law suicide was considered murder. The requirement that the person killed be someone other than the perpetrator excluded suicide from the definition of murder.

with malice aforethought—originally malice aforethought
Malice aforethought
Malice aforethought is the "premeditation" or "predetermination" that was required as an element of some crimes in some jurisdictions, and a unique element for first-degree or aggravated murder in a few.-Legal history:...

carried its everyday meaning—a deliberate and premeditated killing of another motivated by ill will. Murder necessarily required that an appreciable time pass between the formation and execution of the intent to kill. The courts broadened the scope of murder by eliminating the requirement of actual premeditation and deliberation as well as true malice. All that was required for malice aforethought to exist is that the perpetrator act with one of the four states of mind that constitutes "malice."

The four states of mind recognized as constituting "malice" are:


  1. Intent to kill
    KILL
    KILL is the sixth album by Detroit rock band Electric Six.In initial press releases, the band described the album as being a return to a sound more akin to their debut album, but this was later revealed by front-man Dick Valentine to be more gimmick than truth.An explicit video was released for...

    ,

  2. Intent to inflict grievous bodily harm
    Grievous bodily harm
    Grievous bodily harm is a term of art used in English criminal law which has become synonymous with the offences that are created by sections 18 and 20 of the Offences against the Person Act 1861....

     short of death,

  3. Reckless indifference to an unjustifiably high risk to human life (sometimes described as an "abandoned and malignant heart"), or

  4. Intent to commit a dangerous felony
    Felony
    A felony is a serious crime in the common law countries. The term originates from English common law where felonies were originally crimes which involved the confiscation of a convicted person's land and goods; other crimes were called misdemeanors...

     (the "felony-murder" doctrine).



Under state of mind (i), intent to kill, the deadly weapon rule applies. Thus, if the defendant intentionally uses a deadly weapon or instrument against the victim, such use authorizes a permissive inference of intent to kill. In other words, "intent follows the bullet
Transferred intent
Transferred intent describes the fact that intent can be transferred between victims, between torts, or both. In tort law, there are generally five areas in which transferred intent is applicable: battery, assault, false imprisonment, trespass to land, and trespass to chattels...

." Examples of deadly weapons and instruments include but are not limited to guns, knives, deadly toxins or chemicals or gases and even vehicles when intentionally used to harm a victim.

Under state of mind (iii), an "abandoned and malignant heart", the killing must result from defendant's conduct involving a reckless indifference to human life and a conscious disregard of an unreasonable risk of death or serious bodily injury. An example of this is a 2007 law in California
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

 where an individual could be convicted of third-degree murder if he or she kills another person while operating a motor vehicle while being under the influence
Driving under the influence
Driving under the influence is the act of driving a motor vehicle with blood levels of alcohol in excess of a legal limit...

 of alcohol, drug
Drug
A drug, broadly speaking, is any substance that, when absorbed into the body of a living organism, alters normal bodily function. There is no single, precise definition, as there are different meanings in drug control law, government regulations, medicine, and colloquial usage.In pharmacology, a...

s, or controlled substance
Controlled substance
A controlled substance is generally a drug or chemical whose manufacture, possession, or use are regulated by a government. This may include illegal drugs and prescription medications ....

s.

Under state of mind (iv), the felony-murder doctrine, the felony committed must be an inherently dangerous felony, such as burglary, arson, rape, robbery or kidnapping. Importantly, the underlying felony cannot be a lesser included offense
Lesser included offense
A lesser included offense, in criminal law, is a crime for which all of the elements necessary to impose liability are also elements found in a more serious crime....

 such as assault, otherwise all criminal homicides would be murder as all are felonies.

Many jurisdictions divide murder by degrees. The most common divisions are between first and second degree murder. Generally, second degree murder is common law murder, and first degree is an aggravated form. The aggravating factors of first degree murder are a specific intent to kill, premeditation, and deliberation. In addition, murder committed by acts such as strangulation, poisoning, or lying in wait are also treated as first degree murder.

Origins

In the past, certain types of homicide were lawful and justified. Georg Oesterdiekhoff wrote that:
One of the oldest known prohibitions against murder appears in the Sumerian Code of Ur-Nammu
Code of Ur-Nammu
The Code of Ur-Nammu is the oldest known tablet containing a law code surviving today. It was written in the Sumerian language circa 2100 BC-2050 BC...

 written sometime between 2100 and 2050 BC. The code states, "If a man commits a murder, that man must be killed." The payment of weregild
Weregild
Weregild was a value placed on every human being and every piece of property in the Salic Code...

 was an important legal mechanism in early Germanic society. If someone was killed, the guilty person would have to pay weregild to the victim's family. The other common form of legal reparation at this time was blood revenge
Blood Feud
"Blood Feud" is the twenty-second and final episode of The Simpsons second season. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on July 11, 1991. In the episode, Mr. Burns falls ill and desperately needs a blood transfusion. Homer discovers Bart has Burns' rare blood type and urges...

.

In Judeo-Christian
Judeo-Christian
Judeo-Christian is a term used in the United States since the 1940s to refer to standards of ethics said to be held in common by Judaism and Christianity, for example the Ten Commandments...

 traditions, the prohibition against murder is one of the Ten Commandments
Ten Commandments
The Ten Commandments, also known as the Decalogue , are a set of biblical principles relating to ethics and worship, which play a fundamental role in Judaism and most forms of Christianity. They include instructions to worship only God and to keep the Sabbath, and prohibitions against idolatry,...

 given by God to Moses in (Exodus: 20v13) and (Deuteronomy 5v17) (See Murder in the Bible). The Vulgate
Vulgate
The Vulgate is a late 4th-century Latin translation of the Bible. It was largely the work of St. Jerome, who was commissioned by Pope Damasus I in 382 to make a revision of the old Latin translations...

 and subsequent early English translations of the Bible used the term secretly killeth his neighbour or smiteth his neighbour secretly rather than murder for the Latin clam percusserit proximum.

Later editions such as Young's Literal Translation
Young's Literal Translation
Young's Literal Translation is a translation of the Bible into English, published in 1862. The translation was made by Robert Young, compiler of Young's Analytical Concordance to the Bible and Concise Critical Comments on the New Testament. Young produced a "Revised Version" of the translation in...

 and the World English Bible
World English Bible
The World English Bible is a public domain translation of the Bible that is currently in draft form. Work on the World English Bible began in 1997 and was known as the American Standard Version 1997...

 have translated the Latin occides simply as murder rather than the alternatives of kill, assassinate, fall upon or slay. Christian churches have some doctrinal differences about what forms of homicide are prohibited biblically, though all agree that murder is prohibited.

In Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

 according to the Qur'an
Qur'an
The Quran , also transliterated Qur'an, Koran, Alcoran, Qur’ān, Coran, Kuran, and al-Qur’ān, is the central religious text of Islam, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God . It is regarded widely as the finest piece of literature in the Arabic language...

, one of the greatest sin
Sin
In religion, sin is the violation or deviation of an eternal divine law or standard. The term sin may also refer to the state of having committed such a violation. Christians believe the moral code of conduct is decreed by God In religion, sin (also called peccancy) is the violation or deviation...

s is to kill a human being who has committed no fault. "For that cause We decreed for the Children of Israel that whosoever killeth a human being for other than manslaughter or corruption in the earth, it shall be as if he had killed all mankind, and whoso saveth the life of one, it shall be as if he had saved the life of all mankind." "And those who cry not unto any other god along with Allah, nor take the life which Allah hath forbidden save in (course of) justice, nor commit adultery - and whoso doeth this shall pay the penalty."

The term 'Assassin' derives from Hashshashin
Hashshashin
The Assassins were an order of Nizari Ismailis, particularly those of Persia that existed from around 1092 to 1265...

, a militant Ismaili
Ismaili
' is a branch of Shia Islam. It is the second largest branch of Shia Islam, after the Twelvers...

 Shi-ite sect, active from the eighth to the fourteenth centuries. This mystic secret society
Secret society
A secret society is a club or organization whose activities and inner functioning are concealed from non-members. The society may or may not attempt to conceal its existence. The term usually excludes covert groups, such as intelligence agencies or guerrilla insurgencies, which hide their...

 killed members of the Abbasid
Abbasid
The Abbasid Caliphate or, more simply, the Abbasids , was the third of the Islamic caliphates. It was ruled by the Abbasid dynasty of caliphs, who built their capital in Baghdad after overthrowing the Umayyad caliphate from all but the al-Andalus region....

, Fatimid
Fatimid
The Fatimid Islamic Caliphate or al-Fāṭimiyyūn was a Berber Shia Muslim caliphate first centered in Tunisia and later in Egypt that ruled over varying areas of the Maghreb, Sudan, Sicily, the Levant, and Hijaz from 5 January 909 to 1171.The caliphate was ruled by the Fatimids, who established the...

, Seljuq
Seljuq dynasty
The Seljuq ; were a Turco-Persian Sunni Muslim dynasty that ruled parts of Central Asia and the Middle East from the 11th to 14th centuries...

 and Crusader elite for political and religious reasons. The Thuggee
Thuggee
Thuggee is the term for a particular kind of murder and robbery of travellers in South Asia and particularly in India.They are sometimes called Phansigar i.e...

 cult that plagued India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

 was devoted to Kali
Kali
' , also known as ' , is the Hindu goddess associated with power, shakti. The name Kali comes from kāla, which means black, time, death, lord of death, Shiva. Kali means "the black one". Since Shiva is called Kāla - the eternal time, Kālī, his consort, also means "Time" or "Death" . Hence, Kāli is...

, the goddess of death and destruction. According to some estimates the Thuggees murdered 1 million people between 1740 and 1840. The Aztec
Aztec
The Aztec people were certain ethnic groups of central Mexico, particularly those groups who spoke the Nahuatl language and who dominated large parts of Mesoamerica in the 14th, 15th and 16th centuries, a period referred to as the late post-classic period in Mesoamerican chronology.Aztec is the...

s believed that without regular offerings of blood the sun god Huitzilopochtli
Huitzilopochtli
In Aztec mythology, Huitzilopochtli, also spelled Uitzilopochtli , was a god of war, a sun god, and the patron of the city of Tenochtitlan. He was also the national god of the Mexicas of Tenochtitlan.- Genealogy :...

 would withdraw his support for them and destroy the world as they knew it. According to Ross Hassig
Ross Hassig
Ross Hassig   is an American historical anthropologist specializing in Mesoamerican studies, particularly the Aztec culture. His focus is often on the description of practical infrastructure in Mesoamerican societies...

, author of Aztec Warfare, "between 10,000 and 80,400 persons" were sacrificed
Human sacrifice
Human sacrifice is the act of killing one or more human beings as part of a religious ritual . Its typology closely parallels the various practices of ritual slaughter of animals and of religious sacrifice in general. Human sacrifice has been practised in various cultures throughout history...

 in the 1487 re-consecration of the Great Pyramid of Tenochtitlan
Great Pyramid of Tenochtitlan
The ' was one of the main temples of the Aztecs in their capital city of Tenochtitlan, which is now Mexico City. Its architectural style belongs to the late Postclassic period of Mesoamerica...

.

Legal definition

As with most legal terms, the precise definition of murder varies between jurisdictions and is usually codified in some form of legislation.

At common law

According to Blackstone, English common law
Common law
Common law is law developed by judges through decisions of courts and similar tribunals rather than through legislative statutes or executive branch action...

 identified murder as a public wrong. At common law, murder is considered to be malum in se
Malum in se
Malum in se is a Latin phrase meaning wrong or evil in itself. The phrase is used to refer to conduct assessed as sinful or inherently wrong by nature, independent of regulations governing the conduct...

, that is an act which is evil within itself. An act such as murder is wrong/evil by its very nature. And it is the very nature of the act which does not require any specific detailing or definition in the law to consider murder a crime.

Some jurisdictions still take a common law
Common law
Common law is law developed by judges through decisions of courts and similar tribunals rather than through legislative statutes or executive branch action...

 view of murder. In such jurisdictions, precedent
Precedent
In common law legal systems, a precedent or authority is a principle or rule established in a legal case that a court or other judicial body may apply when deciding subsequent cases with similar issues or facts...

 case law or previous decisions of the courts of law defines what is considered murder. However, it tends to be rare and the majority of jurisdictions have some statutory prohibition against murder.

Exclusions

  • Unlawful killings without malice or intent are considered manslaughter
    Manslaughter
    Manslaughter is a legal term for the killing of a human being, in a manner considered by law as less culpable than murder. The distinction between murder and manslaughter is said to have first been made by the Ancient Athenian lawmaker Dracon in the 7th century BC.The law generally differentiates...

    .
  • Justified or accidental killings are considered homicide
    Homicide
    Homicide refers to the act of a human killing another human. Murder, for example, is a type of homicide. It can also describe a person who has committed such an act, though this use is rare in modern English...

    s. Depending on the circumstances, these may or may not be considered criminal offenses.
  • Suicide
    Suicide
    Suicide is the act of intentionally causing one's own death. Suicide is often committed out of despair or attributed to some underlying mental disorder, such as depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, alcoholism, or drug abuse...

     is not considered murder in most societies. Assisting a suicide, however, may be considered murder in some circumstances.
  • Capital punishment
    Capital punishment
    Capital punishment, the death penalty, or execution is the sentence of death upon a person by the state as a punishment for an offence. Crimes that can result in a death penalty are known as capital crimes or capital offences. The term capital originates from the Latin capitalis, literally...

     ordered by a legitimate court of law as the result of a conviction in a criminal trial with due process
    Due process
    Due process is the legal code that the state must venerate all of the legal rights that are owed to a person under the principle. Due process balances the power of the state law of the land and thus protects individual persons from it...

     for a serious crime.
  • Killing of enemy combatants by lawful combatants in accordance with lawful orders in war
    War
    War is a state of organized, armed, and often prolonged conflict carried on between states, nations, or other parties typified by extreme aggression, social disruption, and usually high mortality. War should be understood as an actual, intentional and widespread armed conflict between political...

    , although illicit killings within a war may constitute murder or homicidal war crime
    War crime
    War crimes are serious violations of the laws applicable in armed conflict giving rise to individual criminal responsibility...

    s. (see the Laws of war
    Laws of war
    The law of war is a body of law concerning acceptable justifications to engage in war and the limits to acceptable wartime conduct...

     article)
  • The administration of lethal drugs by a doctor to a terminally ill patient, if the intention is solely to alleviate pain, is seen in many jurisdictions as a special case (see the doctrine of double effect and the case of Dr John Bodkin Adams
    John Bodkin Adams
    John Bodkin Adams was an Irish-born British general practitioner, convicted fraudster and suspected serial killer. Between the years 1946 and 1956, more than 160 of his patients died in suspicious circumstances. Of these, 132 left him money or items in their will. He was tried and acquitted for...

    ).
  • In some cases, killing a person who is attempting to kill another is classified as self-defense
    Self-defense
    Self-defense, self-defence or private defense is a countermeasure that involves defending oneself, one's property or the well-being of another from physical harm. The use of the right of self-defense as a legal justification for the use of force in times of danger is available in many...

     and thus, not murder.

Self-defense

Acting in self-defense
Self-defense (theory)
The right of self-defense is the right for civilians acting on their own behalf to engage in violence for the sake of defending one's own life or the lives of others, including the use of deadly force.- Theory :The...

 or in defense of another person is generally accepted as legal justification for killing a person in situations that would otherwise have been murder. However, a self-defense killing might be considered manslaughter if the killer established control of the situation before the killing took place. In the case of self-defense it is called a "justifiable homicide". A killing simply to prevent the theft of one's property may not be a justifiable homicide, depending on the laws of a place.

Victim

All jurisdictions require that the victim be a natural person; that is a human being who was still alive at the time of being murdered. In other words, under the law, one cannot murder a cadaver
Cadaver
A cadaver is a dead human body.Cadaver may also refer to:* Cadaver tomb, tomb featuring an effigy in the form of a decomposing body* Cadaver , a video game* cadaver A command-line WebDAV client for Unix....

, a corporation
Corporation
A corporation is created under the laws of a state as a separate legal entity that has privileges and liabilities that are distinct from those of its members. There are many different forms of corporations, most of which are used to conduct business. Early corporations were established by charter...

, a non-human animal
Animal
Animals are a major group of multicellular, eukaryotic organisms of the kingdom Animalia or Metazoa. Their body plan eventually becomes fixed as they develop, although some undergo a process of metamorphosis later on in their life. Most animals are motile, meaning they can move spontaneously and...

, or any other non-human organism
Organism
In biology, an organism is any contiguous living system . In at least some form, all organisms are capable of response to stimuli, reproduction, growth and development, and maintenance of homoeostasis as a stable whole.An organism may either be unicellular or, as in the case of humans, comprise...

.

California
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

's murder statute, Penal Code
California Penal Code
The Penal Code of California forms the basis for the application of criminal law in the American state of California. It was originally enacted in 1872 as one of the original four California Codes, and has been substantially amended and revised since then....

 Section 187
187 (murder)
187 is a slang term for the crime of murder; it refers to Section 187 of the California Penal Code, which defines the crime of murder. The number is commonly pronounced by reading the digits separately as "one-eight-seven", or "one-eighty-seven", rather than "one hundred eighty-seven".The number...

, was interpreted by the Supreme Court of California
Supreme Court of California
The Supreme Court of California is the highest state court in California. It is headquartered in San Francisco and regularly holds sessions in Los Angeles and Sacramento. Its decisions are binding on all other California state courts.-Composition:...

 in 1994 as not requiring any proof of the viability of the fetus as a prerequisite to a murder conviction. This holding has two implications. The first is a defendant in California can be convicted of murder for killing a fetus which the mother herself could have terminated without committing a crime. The second, as stated by Justice Stanley Mosk
Stanley Mosk
Stanley Mosk was an Associate Justice of the California Supreme Court for 37 years , and holds the record for the longest-serving justice on that court. Before sitting on the Supreme Court, he served as Attorney General of California and as a trial court judge, among other governmental positions...

 in his dissent, because women carrying nonviable fetuses may not be visibly pregnant, it may be possible for a defendant to be convicted of intentionally murdering a person he did not know existed.

Mitigating circumstances

Some countries allow conditions that "affect the balance of the mind" to be regarded as mitigating circumstances
Mitigating factor
A mitigating factor, in law, is any information or evidence presented to the court regarding the defendant or the circumstances of the crime that might result in reduced charges or a lesser sentence.-Death penalty in the United States:...

. This means that a person may be found guilty of "manslaughter" on the basis of "diminished responsibility" rather than murder, if it can be proved that the killer was suffering from a condition that affected their judgment at the time. Depression
Clinical depression
Major depressive disorder is a mental disorder characterized by an all-encompassing low mood accompanied by low self-esteem, and by loss of interest or pleasure in normally enjoyable activities...

, post-traumatic stress disorder
Post-traumatic stress disorder
Posttraumaticstress disorder is a severe anxiety disorder that can develop after exposure to any event that results in psychological trauma. This event may involve the threat of death to oneself or to someone else, or to one's own or someone else's physical, sexual, or psychological integrity,...

 and medication side-effect
Adverse effect (medicine)
In medicine, an adverse effect is a harmful and undesired effect resulting from a medication or other intervention such as surgery.An adverse effect may be termed a "side effect", when judged to be secondary to a main or therapeutic effect. If it results from an unsuitable or incorrect dosage or...

s are examples of conditions that may be taken into account when assessing responsibility.

Insanity

Mental disorder
Mental disorder defence
In the criminal laws of Australia and Canada, the defence of mental disorder is a legal defence by excuse, by which a defendant may argue they should not be held criminally liable for breaking the law because they were mentally ill at the time of the alleged criminal actions.These are a statutory...

 may apply to a wide range of disorders including psychosis
Psychosis
Psychosis means abnormal condition of the mind, and is a generic psychiatric term for a mental state often described as involving a "loss of contact with reality"...

 caused by schizophrenia
Schizophrenia
Schizophrenia is a mental disorder characterized by a disintegration of thought processes and of emotional responsiveness. It most commonly manifests itself as auditory hallucinations, paranoid or bizarre delusions, or disorganized speech and thinking, and it is accompanied by significant social...

 and dementia
Dementia
Dementia is a serious loss of cognitive ability in a previously unimpaired person, beyond what might be expected from normal aging...

, and excuse the person from the need to undergo the stress of a trial as to liability. Usually, sociopathy
Sociopathy
Sociopathy is a loosely-defined term that may be used to refer to:*Antisocial Personality Disorder*Dissocial Personality Disorder*Psychopathy...

 and other personality disorders are not legally considered insanity, because of the belief they are the result of free will
Free will
"To make my own decisions whether I am successful or not due to uncontrollable forces" -Troy MorrisonA pragmatic definition of free willFree will is the ability of agents to make choices free from certain kinds of constraints. The existence of free will and its exact nature and definition have long...

 in many societies. In some jurisdictions, following the pre-trial hearing to determine the extent of the disorder, the defense of "not guilty by reason of insanity" may be used to get a not guilty verdict. This defense has two elements:
  1. That the defendant
    Defendant
    A defendant or defender is any party who is required to answer the complaint of a plaintiff or pursuer in a civil lawsuit before a court, or any party who has been formally charged or accused of violating a criminal statute...

     had a serious mental illness, disease, or defect.
  2. That the defendant's mental condition, at the time of the killing, rendered the perpetrator unable to determine right from wrong, or that what he or she was doing was wrong.


Under New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

 law, for example:
Under the French Penal Code
French Penal Code of 1791
The French Penal Code of 1791 was a penal code adopted during the French Revolution by the Constituent Assembly, between 25 September and 6 October 1791. It was France's first penal code, and was influenced by the Enlightenment thinking of Beccaria and Montesquieu.The principle of legality was...

:


Those who successfully argue a defense based on a mental disorder are usually referred to mandatory clinical treatment until they are certified safe to be released back into the community, rather than prison.

Post-partum depression

Some countries, such as Brazil
Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

, Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

, Mexico
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

, Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

, Norway
Norway
Norway , officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic unitary constitutional monarchy whose territory comprises the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula, Jan Mayen, and the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard and Bouvet Island. Norway has a total area of and a population of about 4.9 million...

, Sweden
Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

, the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

, New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses and numerous smaller islands. The country is situated some east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga...

 and Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

, allow postpartum depression
Postpartum depression
Postpartum depression , also called postnatal depression, is a form of clinical depression which can affect women, and less frequently men, typically after childbirth. Studies report prevalence rates among women from 5% to 25%, but methodological differences among the studies make the actual...

 (also known as post-natal depression) as a defense against murder of a child by a mother, provided that a child is less than two years old (this may be the specific offense of infanticide
Infanticide
Infanticide or infant homicide is the killing of a human infant. Neonaticide, a killing within 24 hours of a baby's birth, is most commonly done by the mother.In many past societies, certain forms of infanticide were considered permissible...

 rather than murder and include the effects of lactation and other aspects of post-natal care).

Unintentional

For a killing to be considered murder, there normally needs to be an element of intent. For this argument to be successful, the killer generally needs to demonstrate that they took precautions not to kill and that the death could not have been anticipated or was unavoidable, whatever action they took. As a general rule, manslaughter
Manslaughter
Manslaughter is a legal term for the killing of a human being, in a manner considered by law as less culpable than murder. The distinction between murder and manslaughter is said to have first been made by the Ancient Athenian lawmaker Dracon in the 7th century BC.The law generally differentiates...

 constitutes reckless killing, while criminally negligent homicide is a grossly negligent killing.

Diminished capacity

In those jurisdictions using the Uniform Penal Code, such as California
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

, diminished capacity
Diminished Capacity
Diminished Capacity is a comedy film directed by Terry Kinney and starring Matthew Broderick, Virginia Madsen, and Alan Alda. It was released at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival and opened in theaters in July 2008...

 may be a defense. For example, Dan White
Dan White
Daniel James "Dan" White was a San Francisco supervisor who assassinated San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk, on Monday, November 27, 1978, at City Hall...

 used this defense to obtain a manslaughter conviction, instead of murder, in the assassination
Assassination
To carry out an assassination is "to murder by a sudden and/or secret attack, often for political reasons." Alternatively, assassination may be defined as "the act of deliberately killing someone, especially a public figure, usually for hire or for political reasons."An assassination may be...

 of Mayor George Moscone
George Moscone
George Richard Moscone was an American attorney and Democratic politician. He was the 37th mayor of San Francisco, California, US from January 1976 until his assassination in November 1978. Moscone served in the California State Senate from 1967 until becoming Mayor. In the Senate, he served as...

 and Supervisor Harvey Milk
Harvey Milk
Harvey Bernard Milk was an American politician who became the first openly gay man to be elected to public office in California when he won a seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors...

.

Aggravating circumstances

Murder with specified aggravating circumstances
Aggravation (legal concept)
Aggravation, in law, is "any circumstance attending the commission of a crime or tort which increases its guilt or enormity or adds to its injurious consequences, but which is above and beyond the essential constituents of the crime or tort itself."...

 is often punished more harshly. Depending on the jurisdiction, such circumstances may include:
  • Premeditation
  • Poisoning
  • Murder of a police officer, judge, fireman or witness to a crime
  • Where the victim was a pregnant woman
  • Committed for pay or other reward
  • Exceptional brutality or cruelty


In the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, these murders are referred to as first-degree or aggravated murders.

Year-and-a-day rule

In some common law
Common law
Common law is law developed by judges through decisions of courts and similar tribunals rather than through legislative statutes or executive branch action...

 jurisdictions, a defendant
Defendant
A defendant or defender is any party who is required to answer the complaint of a plaintiff or pursuer in a civil lawsuit before a court, or any party who has been formally charged or accused of violating a criminal statute...

 accused of murder is not guilty if the victim survives for longer than one year and one day
Year and a day rule
The year and a day rule has been a common traditional length of time for establishing differences in legal status. The phrase "year and a day rule" is most commonly associated with the former common law standard that death could not be legally attributed to acts or omissions that occurred more...

 after the attack. This reflects the likelihood that if the victim dies, other factors will have contributed to the cause of death, breaking the chain of causation
Causation (law)
Causation is the "causal relationship between conduct and result". That is to say that causation provides a means of connecting conduct with a resulting effect, typically an injury. In criminal law, it is defined as the actus reus from which the specific injury or other effect arose and is...

. Subject to any statute of limitations
Statute of limitations
A statute of limitations is an enactment in a common law legal system that sets the maximum time after an event that legal proceedings based on that event may be initiated...

, the accused could still be charged with an offence representing the seriousness of the initial assault
Assault
In law, assault is a crime causing a victim to fear violence. The term is often confused with battery, which involves physical contact. The specific meaning of assault varies between countries, but can refer to an act that causes another to apprehend immediate and personal violence, or in the more...

.

With advances in modern medicine, most countries have abandoned a fixed time period and test causation on the facts of the case.

In England and Wales
England and Wales
England and Wales is a jurisdiction within the United Kingdom. It consists of England and Wales, two of the four countries of the United Kingdom...

, due to medical advancements, the "year-and-a-day-rule" is no longer in use. However, if death occurs three years or more after the original attack then prosecution can take place only with the Attorney-General's approval.

In the United States, many jurisdictions have abolished the rule as well. Abolition of the rule has been accomplished by enactment of statutory criminal codes, which had the effect of displacing the common-law definitions of crimes and corresponding defenses. In 2001, the Supreme Court of the United States
Supreme Court of the United States
The Supreme Court of the United States is the highest court in the United States. It has ultimate appellate jurisdiction over all state and federal courts, and original jurisdiction over a small range of cases...

 held that retroactive application of a state supreme court decision abolishing the year-and-a-day rule did not violate the Ex Post Facto
Ex post facto law
An ex post facto law or retroactive law is a law that retroactively changes the legal consequences of actions committed or relationships that existed prior to the enactment of the law...

 Clause of Article I of the United States Constitution
Article One of the United States Constitution
Article One of the United States Constitution describes the powers of Congress, the legislative branch of the federal government. The Article establishes the powers of and limitations on the Congress, consisting of a House of Representatives composed of Representatives, with each state gaining or...

.

In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Philadelphia is the largest city in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the county seat of Philadelphia County, with which it is coterminous. The city is located in the Northeastern United States along the Delaware and Schuylkill rivers. It is the fifth-most-populous city in the United States,...

, a 74-year-old man, William Barnes, was acquitted of murder charges on May 24, 2010. He was on trial for murder for the death of Philadelphia police officer Walter Barkley. Barnes shot Barkley on November 27, 1966, and served 16 years in prison for attempted murder. Barkley died on August 19, 2007, allegedly from complications of the wounds suffered nearly 41 years earlier.

Epidemiology

An estimated 520,000 people were murdered in 2000 around the globe. Two-fifths of them were young people between the ages of 10 and 29 who were killed by other young people. Because murder is the least likely crime to go unreported, statistics of murder are seen as a bellwether
Bellwether
A bellwether is any entity in a given arena that serves to create or influence trends or to presage future happenings.The term is derived from the Middle English bellewether and refers to the practice of placing a bell around the neck of a castrated ram leading his flock of sheep.The movements of...

 of overall crime rates.

Murder rates vary greatly among countries and societies around the world. In the Western world
Western world
The Western world, also known as the West and the Occident , is a term referring to the countries of Western Europe , the countries of the Americas, as well all countries of Northern and Central Europe, Australia and New Zealand...

, murder rates in most countries have declined significantly during the 20th century and are now between 1-4 cases per 100,000 people per year. Murder rates in Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

, Ireland
Ireland
Ireland is an island to the northwest of continental Europe. It is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on Earth...

 and Iceland
Iceland
Iceland , described as the Republic of Iceland, is a Nordic and European island country in the North Atlantic Ocean, on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Iceland also refers to the main island of the country, which contains almost all the population and almost all the land area. The country has a population...

 are among the lowest in the world, around 0.5 cases per 100,000 people per year; the rate of the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 is among the highest of developed countries, around 5.5 in 2004, with rates in larger cities sometimes over 40 per 100,000. 666,160 people were killed in the United States between 1960 and 1996. Canada, on the other hand, experienced much lower per capita rates of murder. Less than 60,000 were murdered during the period between 1960 and 1996.

Approximately 90% of murders are committed by males Between 1976 and 2005, 23.5% of all murder victims and 64.8% of victims murdered by intimate partners were female.
For women, homicide is the leading cause of death in the workplace. There is a sharp peak in the age distribution of murderers between the ages of 18 and 30. People become less likely to commit a murder as they age.

The following absolute murder counts per-country are not comparable because they are not adjusted by each country's total population. Nonetheless, they are included here for reference. There were an estimated 43,016 murders in Brazil
Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

 in 2010, down from 51,043 in 2003. 32,719 murder cases were registered across India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

 in 2007, about 30,000 murders committed annually in the early 2000s (down to 17000 in 2009) in Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

, approximately 16,000 murders in Colombia
Colombia
Colombia, officially the Republic of Colombia , is a unitary constitutional republic comprising thirty-two departments. The country is located in northwestern South America, bordered to the east by Venezuela and Brazil; to the south by Ecuador and Peru; to the north by the Caribbean Sea; to the...

 in 2009 (the murder rate was 36 per 100,000 people, in 2005 murders went down to 15,000), approximately 20,000 murders each year in South Africa
South Africa
The Republic of South Africa is a country in southern Africa. Located at the southern tip of Africa, it is divided into nine provinces, with of coastline on the Atlantic and Indian oceans...

, approximately 17,000 murders in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, approximately 15,000 murders in Mexico
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

, approximately 16,000 murders in Venezuela
Venezuela
Venezuela , officially called the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela , is a tropical country on the northern coast of South America. It borders Colombia to the west, Guyana to the east, and Brazil to the south...

, approximately 6,000 murders in El Salvador
El Salvador
El Salvador or simply Salvador is the smallest and the most densely populated country in Central America. The country's capital city and largest city is San Salvador; Santa Ana and San Miguel are also important cultural and commercial centers in the country and in all of Central America...

, approximately 1,600 murders in Jamaica
Jamaica
Jamaica is an island nation of the Greater Antilles, in length, up to in width and 10,990 square kilometres in area. It is situated in the Caribbean Sea, about south of Cuba, and west of Hispaniola, the island harbouring the nation-states Haiti and the Dominican Republic...

, approximately 1,000 murders in France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

, approximately 580 murders per year in Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

, approximately 560 murders in Trinidad and Tobago
Trinidad and Tobago
Trinidad and Tobago officially the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago is an archipelagic state in the southern Caribbean, lying just off the coast of northeastern Venezuela and south of Grenada in the Lesser Antilles...

  and approximately 200 murders in Chile
Chile
Chile ,officially the Republic of Chile , is a country in South America occupying a long, narrow coastal strip between the Andes mountains to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. It borders Peru to the north, Bolivia to the northeast, Argentina to the east, and the Drake Passage in the far...

. The murder rate in Port Moresby
Port Moresby
Port Moresby , or Pot Mosbi in Tok Pisin, is the capital and largest city of Papua New Guinea . It is located on the shores of the Gulf of Papua, on the southeastern coast of the island of New Guinea, which made it a prime objective for conquest by the Imperial Japanese forces during 1942–43...

, Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea , officially the Independent State of Papua New Guinea, is a country in Oceania, occupying the eastern half of the island of New Guinea and numerous offshore islands...

 is 23 times that of London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

. Pakistan
Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

 reported 9,631 murders.

Murder is the leading cause of death for African American
African American
African Americans are citizens or residents of the United States who have at least partial ancestry from any of the native populations of Sub-Saharan Africa and are the direct descendants of enslaved Africans within the boundaries of the present United States...

 males aged 15 to 34. In 2006, Federal Bureau of Investigation
Federal Bureau of Investigation
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is an agency of the United States Department of Justice that serves as both a federal criminal investigative body and an internal intelligence agency . The FBI has investigative jurisdiction over violations of more than 200 categories of federal crime...

's Supplementary Homicide Report indicated that most of the 14,990 murder victims were Black (7421). In the year 2007 non-negligent homicides, there were 3,221 black victims and 3,587 white victims. While 2,905 of the black victims were killed by a black offender, 2,918 of the white victims were killed by white offenders. There were 566 white victims of black offenders and 245 black victims of white offenders. It should be noted that the "white" category in the Uniform Crime Reports
Uniform Crime Reports
The Uniform Crime Reports are published by the United States Department of Justice Federal Bureau of Investigation Uniform Crime Reporting Program...

 (UCR) includes non-black Hispanics
Hispanic and Latino Americans
Hispanic or Latino Americans are Americans with origins in the Hispanic countries of Latin America or in Spain, and in general all persons in the United States who self-identify as Hispanic or Latino.1990 Census of Population and Housing: A self-designated classification for people whose origins...

. In London in 2006, 75% of the victims of gun crime and 79% of the suspects were "from the African/Caribbean community."
Murder demographics are affected by the improvement of trauma care, which has resulted in reduced lethality of violent assaults—thus the murder rate may not necessarily indicate the overall level of social violence.

Workplace homicide is the fastest growing category of murder in America.

Development of murder rates over time in different countries is often used by both supporters and opponents of capital punishment
Capital punishment
Capital punishment, the death penalty, or execution is the sentence of death upon a person by the state as a punishment for an offence. Crimes that can result in a death penalty are known as capital crimes or capital offences. The term capital originates from the Latin capitalis, literally...

 and gun control
Gun control
Gun control is any law, policy, practice, or proposal designed to restrict or limit the possession, production, importation, shipment, sale, and/or use of guns or other firearms by private citizens...

. Using properly filtered data, it is possible to make the case for or against either of these issues. For example, one could look at murder rates in the United States from 1950 to 2000, and notice that those rates went up sharply shortly after a moratorium on death sentences
Capital punishment in the United States
Capital punishment in the United States, in practice, applies only for aggravated murder and more rarely for felony murder. Capital punishment was a penalty at common law, for many felonies, and was enforced in all of the American colonies prior to the Declaration of Independence...

 was effectively imposed in the late 1960s. This fact has been used to argue that capital punishment serves as a deterrent and, as such, it is morally justified. Capital punishment opponents frequently counter that the United States has much higher murder rates than Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

 and most European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

 countries, although all those countries have abolished the death penalty. Overall, the global pattern is too complex
Chaos theory
Chaos theory is a field of study in mathematics, with applications in several disciplines including physics, economics, biology, and philosophy. Chaos theory studies the behavior of dynamical systems that are highly sensitive to initial conditions, an effect which is popularly referred to as the...

, and on average, the influence of both these factors may not be significant and could be more social, economic, and cultural.

Despite the immense improvements in forensics
Forensics
Forensic science is the application of a broad spectrum of sciences to answer questions of interest to a legal system. This may be in relation to a crime or a civil action...

 in the past few decades, the fraction of murders solved has decreased in the United States, from 90% in 1960 to 61% in 2007. Solved murder rates in major U.S. cities varied in 2007 from 36% in Boston
Boston
Boston is the capital of and largest city in Massachusetts, and is one of the oldest cities in the United States. The largest city in New England, Boston is regarded as the unofficial "Capital of New England" for its economic and cultural impact on the entire New England region. The city proper had...

, Massachusetts
Massachusetts
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. It is bordered by Rhode Island and Connecticut to the south, New York to the west, and Vermont and New Hampshire to the north; at its east lies the Atlantic Ocean. As of the 2010...

 to 76% in San Jose
San Jose, California
San Jose is the third-largest city in California, the tenth-largest in the U.S., and the county seat of Santa Clara County which is located at the southern end of San Francisco Bay...

, California
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

. Major factors affecting the arrest rate include witness cooperation and the number of people assigned to investigate the case.

History

According to scholar Pieter Spierenburg murder rates per 100,000 in Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

 have fallen over the centuries, from 35 per 100,000 in medieval times, to 20 in 1500 AD, 5 in 1700, to below two per 100,000 in 1900.

In the United States, murder rates have been higher and have fluctuated. They fell below 2 per 100,000 by 1900, rose during the first half of the century, dropped in the years following World War II, bottomed out at 4.0 in 1957 before rising again. The rate stayed in 9 to 10 range most of the period from 1972 to 1994, before falling to 5 in present times. The increase since 1957 would have been even greater if not for the significant improvements in medical techniques and emergency response times, which mean that more and more attempted homicide victims survive. According to one estimate, if the lethality levels of criminal assaults of 1964 still applied in 1993, the country would have seen the murder rate of around 26 per 100,000, almost triple the actually observed rate of 9.5 per 100,000.

A similar, but less pronounced pattern has been seen in major European countries as well. The murder rate in the United Kingdom fell to 1 per 100,000 by the beginning of the 20th century and as low as 0.62 per 100,000 in 1960, and was at 1.28 per 100,000 . The murder rate in France (excluding Corsica) bottomed out after World War II at less than 0.4 per 100,000, quadrupling to 1.6 per 100,000 since then.

The specific factors driving this dynamics in murder rates are complex and not universally agreed upon. Much of the raise in the U.S. murder rate during the first half of the 20th century is generally thought to be attributed to gang violence associated with the Prohibition
Prohibition in the United States
Prohibition in the United States was a national ban on the sale, manufacture, and transportation of alcohol, in place from 1920 to 1933. The ban was mandated by the Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution, and the Volstead Act set down the rules for enforcing the ban, as well as defining which...

. Since most murders are committed by young males, the near simultaneous low in the murder rates of major developed countries circa 1960 can be attributed to low birth rates during the Great Depression and World War II. Causes of further moves are more controversial. Some of the more exotic factors claimed to affect murder rates include the availability of abortion and the likelihood of chronic exposure to lead during childhood (due to the use of leaded paint in houses and tetraethyllead as a gasoline additive in internal combustion engines).

In Corsica
Corsica
Corsica is an island in the Mediterranean Sea. It is located west of Italy, southeast of the French mainland, and north of the island of Sardinia....

, vendetta
Feud
A feud , referred to in more extreme cases as a blood feud, vendetta, faida, or private war, is a long-running argument or fight between parties—often groups of people, especially families or clans. Feuds begin because one party perceives itself to have been attacked, insulted or wronged by another...

 was a social code that required Corsicans to kill anyone who wronged the family honor. It has been estimated that between 1683 and 1715, nearly 30,000 out of 120,000 Corsicans lost their lives to vendetta, and between 1821 and 1852, no less than 4,300 murders were perpetrated in Corsica.

Country-specific murder law

  • Australia
    Murder (Australian law)
    Murder is defined in the New South Wales Crimes Act 1900 as follows:Under New South Wales State law, the maximum penalty for murder is life imprisonment with a standard non-parole period of 20 years, or 25 years for the murder of a child under the age of 18 or of a police officer or public...

  • Brazil
    Murder (Brazilian law)
    In Brazil, homicide is punished under article 121 of the Penal Code. It is split into two different categories: homicídio doloso , and homicídio culposo In Brazil, homicide is punished under article 121 of the Penal Code. It is split into two different categories: homicídio doloso (where the agent...

  • Canada
    Murder (Canadian law)
    As defined in the Criminal Code of Canada, murder is a culpable homicide with specific intentions.Culpable homicide is defined as causing the death of a human being,*By means of an unlawful act;*By criminal negligence;...

  • China
  • Cuba
    Murder (Cuban Law)
    Murder in Cuba is classified into three major categories: murder with special circumstances, murder, and manslaughter.-Murder with Special Circumstances:Murder with special circumstances is:...

  • Denmark
    Murder (Danish law)
    In Denmark manddrab is the term used by the Danish penalty law to describe the act of intentionally killing another person. No distinction between manslaughter and murder exists...

  • England and Wales
  • Finland
    Murder (Finnish law)
    In Finland, murder is defined as homicide with at least one of four aggravating factors:# Deliberate intent# Exceptional brutality or cruelty# Significantly endangering public safety...


  • France
    Murder (French law)
    In the French penal code, murder is defined by the intentional killing of another person. Murder is punishable by a maximum of 30 years of criminal imprisonment ....

  • Germany
    Murder (German law)
    In Germany the term Mord is officially used for the intentional killing of another person, but only if the case is especially severe. The requirements can be read in § 211 of the German Criminal Code, Strafgesetzbuch ....

  • Hong Kong
    Murder (Hong Kong)
    The Offences Against the Person Ordinance and the Homicide Ordinance are the main statutes that govern homicide. However, no definition of any type of unlawful homicide is available in the Ordinances...

  • India
    Murder (law of India)
    In India according to the Indian Penal Code, 1860 murder is defined as follows:Murder.--Except in the cases hereinafter excepted, culpable homicide is murder, if the act by which the death is caused is done with the intention of causing death,...

  • Israel
    Murder (Israeli law)
    Israel had 173 murders in 2004, compared to 147 murders in 2000. Two particular characteristics of homicide in Israel are the terrorist attacks and honor killings.There are five types of homicide in Israel:...

  • Italy
    Murder (Italian law)
    By Italian law, murder is regulated by articles 575-582, 584-585, and 589 of the Penal Code .In general, according to Art.575, "whoever causes the death of a human being is punishable by no less than 21 years in prison"; nevertheless, the law indicates a series of circumstances under which murder...

  • The Netherlands
    Murder (Dutch law)
    By Dutch law, murder is punishable by a maximum sentence of life imprisonment, which is the longest prison sentence the law allows. A common misconception is that the maximum sentence is 30 years : this is the longest sentence that can be imposed other than life imprisonment.A life sentence is...

  • Norway

  • Peru
    Murder (Peruvian Law)
    Murder in Peru is classified into 4 major categories:*First-Degree Murder with Special Circumstances is murder committed with aggravating circumstances, murder of special persons, or multiple murders and is punishable with a mandatory life sentence....

  • Portugal
  • Romania
    Murder (Romanian law)
    According to the Romanian Penal Code, a person can face a penalty ranging from 10 to 25 years or life imprisonment for murder. -Degrees of murder:...

  • Russia
    Murder (Russian law)
    According to the modern Russian Criminal Code, only intentional killing of another human considered as a murder . The following types of murder are defined:* Murder per se :...

  • Sweden
    Murder (Swedish law)
    In Sweden, the following degrees of murder apply:* Murder is defined as a planned taking a life of another, and punishable with imprisonment between 10 to 18 years or life...

  • Switzerland
    Murder (Swiss law)
    In Switzerland murder is also used for the premeditated killing of another person, but only if the motives are cruel, disgusting or show an overall disrespect of human life. Penalty ranges from ten years to life in prison.Furthermore, homicide is considered murder if it is cruel In ...

  • United States
    Murder (United States law)
    In the United States, the principle of dual sovereignty applies to homicide, as to other crimes. If murder is committed within the borders of a state, that state has jurisdiction. Similarly, if the crime is committed in the District of Columbia, the D.C Superior Court retains jurisdiction,...


Degrees of murder by country

Certain countries employ the concept of first, second, and third degree murder. Canadian
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

 law distinguishes first and second degree murder. Both the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 and Peru
Peru
Peru , officially the Republic of Peru , is a country in western South America. It is bordered on the north by Ecuador and Colombia, on the east by Brazil, on the southeast by Bolivia, on the south by Chile, and on the west by the Pacific Ocean....

 have respective degrees of first, second, and third degree murder. See Degrees of murder in the United States and Murder (Peruvian Law)
Murder (Peruvian Law)
Murder in Peru is classified into 4 major categories:*First-Degree Murder with Special Circumstances is murder committed with aggravating circumstances, murder of special persons, or multiple murders and is punishable with a mandatory life sentence....

.

See also


Topics related to murder

  • Capital punishment
    Capital punishment
    Capital punishment, the death penalty, or execution is the sentence of death upon a person by the state as a punishment for an offence. Crimes that can result in a death penalty are known as capital crimes or capital offences. The term capital originates from the Latin capitalis, literally...

  • Crime of passion
    Crime of passion
    A crime of passion, or crime passionnel, in popular usage, refers to a crime in which the perpetrator commits a crime, especially assault or murder, against someone because of sudden strong impulse such as sudden rage or heartbreak rather than as a premeditated crime...

  • Culpable homicide
    Culpable homicide
    Culpable homicide is a specific offence in various jurisdictions within the Commonwealth of Nations which involves the illegal killing of a person either with or without an intention to kill depending upon how a particular jurisdiction has defined the offence...

  • Depraved heart murder
    Depraved heart murder
    Depraved-heart murder, also known as depraved-indifference murder, is an American legal term for an action that demonstrates a "callous disregard for human life" and results in death...


  • Double murder
    Double murder
    Double murder is a term used to describe the act of unlawfully killing two people. This is commonly punished by back-to-back life sentences. It is possible but rare for a double-murder charge to be enforced in cases of homicide in which a pregnant woman is murdered, thereby killing her unborn...

  • Execution-style murder
    Execution-style murder
    Execution-style murder, also known as Chicago-style murder, and execution-style killing are news media buzzwords applied to various acts of criminal murder where the perpetrator kills at close range a conscious victim who is under the complete physical control of the assailant and who has been left...

  • Felony murder
    Felony murder
    The rule of felony murder is a legal doctrine in some common law jurisdictions that broadens the crime of murder in two ways. First, when an offender kills accidentally or without specific intent to kill in the course of an applicable felony, what might have been manslaughter is escalated to murder...

  • Misdemeanor murder
    Misdemeanor murder
    Misdemeanor murder is a slang term used to describe a situation in which a person is suspected of murder, but there is not enough evidence to convict the suspect of murder in court. The suspect is then either released without charges or the suspect receives a sentence that is similar to a sentence...


  • Murder conviction without a body
    Murder conviction without a body
    Conviction for murder in the absence of a body is possible; although historically, cases of this type have been hard to prove, the prosecution must rely on other evidence, usually circumstantial. Recent developments in forensic science make it less likely that such a murder will go unpunished...

  • Seven laws of Noah
  • Stigmatized property
    Stigmatized property
    In real estate, stigmatized property is property which buyers or tenants may shun for reasons that are unrelated to its physical condition or features. These can include murder, suicide or even AIDS, in addition to a belief that a house may be haunted...

  • Thrill killing
    Thrill killing
    A thrill killing is a term used to describe a premeditated murder committed by a person who is not necessarily suffering from mental instability, and does not derive sexual satisfaction from killing victims, or have anything against them, and sometimes do not know them, but is instead motivated by...


External links

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