First-degree murder is the unlawful killing of any human or fetus with malice aforethought. First-degree murder requires malice aforethought. Malice can be expressed or implied. When it is expressed, it means killing the victim was intentional. When it is implied, it means the killing resulted from an intentional act, the act, or consequences thereof, were dangerous to human life, and the act was intentionally performed with the knowledge of the danger it entailed and with conscious disregard for human life.
Malice aforethought doesn’t mean someone has to act with hatred towards someone else. It means that someone with an unprovoked disregard for human life acted in a way that would most likely result in the death of someone else.
In order to be convicted of first-degree murder one of the following has to be true:
- The killing was intentional, done consciously, or planned. Example – A man waits inside his ex-girlfriend’s apartment for her to come home. He kills her when she gets home.
- The killing was committed during certain specified felonies, such as robbery or rape. Example – A person set a house on fire thinking there was no one inside, but there was someone inside and they were killed.