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What exactly is the difference between capital murder and all other murder charges?

Shawnee Mission, KS |

please make it easy to comprehend.. thanks

Attorney Answers 2


Capital murder is defined in K.S.A. 21-5401. It is the types of murder for which the death penalty can be imposed. It is the intentional and premeditated killing of a person while:

(1) in a kidnapping, or aggravated kidnapping, when it was done with the intent to hold such person for ransom;
(2) because of a contract to kill the person;
(3) the defendant was an inmate or in custody;
(4) a part of one of the following crimes rape, criminal sodomy, aggravated criminal sodomy, or any attempt thereof;
(5) the victim was a law enforcement officer;
(6) more than one person as a part of one act, or two or more connected acts which were a part of a common scheme;
(7) the victim was a child under the age of 14 and the killing was during kidnapping, aggravated kidnapping, and the kidnapping or aggravated kidnapping was committed with intent to commit a sex offense upon the child.

First degree murder is the intentional and premeditated killing of a person, or the killing of a person during an "inherently dangerous felony."

Second degree murder is the intentional killing of a person, or reckless killing commited with an extreme indifference to the value of human life.

Voluntary manslaughter is knowingly killing a human being upon a sudden quarrel or in the heat of passion; or with an unreasonable but honest belief that circumstances existed that justified use of deadly force.

Involuntary manslaughter is the reckless killing of a human being or during a felony, other than an inherently dangerous felony, or during violation of a law that is enacted for the protection of human life or safety, or in commission of a DUI, or during the commission of a lawful act in an unlawful manner.

Each of these definitions has been simplified. Each has subtleties that would have to be carefully examined before application to any particular fact pattern. These definitions are all from Kansas law.

Legal disclaimer: Legal disclaimer: Patrick M. Lewis, (913) 558-3961, This answer is intended to provide general information about the justice system. It does not provide legal advice nor does it create an attorney-client relationship. It does not provide the basis for making decisions about a course of action. Legal advice requires more communication and information than is possible in this format. Many important considerations and factors need to be investigated and discussed before an attorney could give legal advice about this issue. Before making any decisions about a course of action readers are strongly encouraged to contact a lawyer and secure an attorney-client relationship. Readers must also understand that this format does not provide for confidential communication.

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Capital murder is usually means that the death penalty is an available sentence if the defendant is convicted.

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