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What Is an Attempted Murders Sentence?
(5 Types of Defenses)

Attempted murder comes in first and second degrees, and the penalties for the crime differ according to which degree is proved. Attempted first-degree murder is punishable by life in prison, whereas attempted second-degree murder is punishable by 5, 7, or 9 years in prison.
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C.L. Mike Schmidt Published by C.L. Mike Schmidt

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What Is Attempted Murder?

Attempted murder is the failed or aborted attempt to murder another person. Just like other crimes, attempted murder consists of both an action and an intention. In attempted murder, a person must take a direct step toward the killing and must have the specific intent to kill the individual.

What Is a Direct Step Toward Killing Another Person?

The first element of attempted murder involves a person taking a direct step toward killing another person. The fact that the step is ultimately unsuccessful does not mean the crime didn't occur.

A direct step involves putting a plan into motion. If an extraneous factor had not intervened, the murder would have taken place.

What Is Intention to Kill or Malice Aforethought?

Malice aforethought is a mental state in which a person intends to kill someone else or commit an act they know will endanger human life. There are 2 different types of malice aforethought that are recognized in the context of an attempted murder conviction: express malice and implied malice.

What Is Implied Malice?

Implied malice is a mental state and form of malice aforethought. Malice aforethought is required for a person to be found liable for attempted murder. Even if the killing is unintentional, malice aforethought for murder may be implied where the accused consciously endangers human life.

What Is Express Malice?

Express malice occurs when someone has the specific intention to kill another person. For example, if a driver says, “If they don't get out of the way, I'm not stopping,” and then hits someone, this is express malice.

Proving Attempted Murder

Given the severity of attempted murder and the grave consequences of being convicted, prosecutors are required to prove certain elements for the defendant to be found guilty of attempted murder. These elements include:

  • Proving that the defendant attempted to harm the individual physically
  • The defendant had the ability to inflict injury or believed that they could cause injury upon committing the assault
  • The defendant intended to kill the individual they assaulted.

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Defenses for Attempted Murder

The 4 most common strategies for fighting attempted murder charges are to show that the defendant:

  1. Had no intent to kill
  2. Took no direct step towards killing someone
  3. Was misidentified
  4. Acted in self-defense, or
  5. Was falsely accused.

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