ISSUE: Can Jack reasonably be charged with murder, and if so, what degree of murder?
RULE: Any killing that is not justifiable or excusable is criminal homicide, either murder or manslaughter. [Clark & Marshall, 469-477] Murder is the unlawful killing of another human being with malice aforethought. Malice aforethought means that the defendant had one of the following types of mental states: 1) Intent to kill; 2) Intent to inflict great bodily harm; 3) Intent to commit a felony; 4) Awareness of a high risk of death. If the defendant killed with one of these mental states than he is guilty of murder.
The “Deadly Weapon Doctrine” recognizes that ...view middle of the document...
Premeditated killings are those in which the intent to kill is formed with some reflection, deliberation, and reasoning, rather than simply on sudden impulse. Courts do not require that an appreciable amount of time be shown that there was premeditation. In fact, some reason that the formulation of the intent to kill by premeditation and the defendant’s final decision to act upon this intent can occur as instantaneously as successive thoughts [State v. Snowden, supra]
With regard to defenses that may be raised when considering murder in the first or second degree, it should be noted that voluntary intoxication is never a defense in the sense that it invokes a defense doctrine (like insanity) unrelated to the elements of the charged offense. However, it may be used as evidence to negate some culpable mental states and thus preclude conviction of specific intent crimes including the offense of first degree murder based on premeditation and deliberation. The Modern Penal Code clearly specifies that voluntary intoxication can be used to show the absence of the state of mind required in "specific intent" crimes where there is clear evidence that the accused was too intoxicated to form the element subjectively.
It should also be noted that when considering defenses to first and second degree murder the claim of self-defense is not without specific guidelines. In all cases where the defendant claims to have acted in self-defense there are very specific elements must be proved to establish the defense. The defendant must have reasonably believed that it was necessary to defend himself from the physical harm at the hands of another than was not only unlawful, but immediate and imminent. The defendant must have also reasonably believed that the harm threatened was such as to require the defensive force actually used. Although there is no prohibition against the use of deadly force with regard to self-defense, there are special limitations on when it may be used. For instance, deadly force may only be used as a defense if the defendant reasonably believed that the other person was about to inflict death or serious bodily injury and it was necessary to use deadly force. The facts of finding in this case raise many questions with regard to charges and defenses.
Murder: Murder is the unlawful killing of another human being with malice aforethought. In this case, Jack shot Mike in the chest killing him instantly. Unless it is found that Jack acted in self-defense proving that the killing was not unlawful the first requirement of murder has been met. The second requirement of the charge of murder, malice aforethought, is met via the intent to kill by applying the “Deadly Weapon Doctrine” that recognizes when Jack used a deadly weapon on another human being, thereby killing him, he is “presumed” to have intended the killing. Malice aforethought is again satisfied via Jack’s intent to inflict great bodily harm by the fact that Jack...