William D. Kickham
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Second Degree Murder and Felony Murder

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As with first degree murder, this crime is defined by statute: Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 265, Section 1. That legal definition of Murder In the Second Degree is:

“Any murder that is not first degree murder. More specifically, second degree murder includes (1) An unlawful killing that was committed 2) With malice aforethought but without deliberate premeditation; or (3) A murder that was committed in the course of committing a felony not punishable by death or life in prison.” The last of these (3) is known as second degree felony murder, and is discussed further below.

Legal Elements Required For Conviction Of Second Degree Murder:

Malice Aforethought

Unlike first-degree murder, which is defined by statute, the requisite elements of second degree murder are defined by case law. "Case law" is law that has been distilled from prior decisions of Massachusetts' courts; it's otherwise known as "common law" or "decisional law." In Massachusetts, murder in the second degree includes homicides committed with malice aforethought. “Malice aforethought” is a legal term, and it originates from common law. In the context of a charge of second degree murder, malice aforethought can include any intent to inflict a serious bodily injury, where there is no legal justification for doing so. As with first degree murder, "malice" equates to an intent to act in a manner that a reasonable person would know is likely to cause death or serious bodily injury. The malice element that applies in a Massachusetts Second Degree Murder charge does not require an intent on the part of the defendant to cause death – only “serious bodily injury.”

As to what a “legal justification” is, it is some situational fact or facts that would render conduct that would normally be considered criminal under the law, into non-criminal conduct. Perhaps the easiest example of a legal justification is self-defense, or defense of another. Malice aforethought means that the defendant had an intent to seriously hurt the victim, without any legal justification.

Felony Murder

For a homicide to qualify as second degree felony murder, the same requirements apply as do for first degree murder. However, the separation point between these two crimes and charges is that, for a second degree felony murder conviction to result, the underlying felony must be one that is inherently dangerous or that shows a conscious disregard for human life, but carry a penalty of less than death or a life sentence. As an example, burglaries or car thefts such as Larceny of A Motor Vehicle would fall under this category.

Penalties for a Conviction of Second Degree Murder Or Felony Murder

In Massachusetts, a conviction of second degree murder carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment (in a state prison, not a county jail,) with the possibility of parole after a minimum of 15 years. Two major differences from first degree murder are that: 1) A defendant charged with second degree murder has the right to waive a jury trial, and argue the case before a judge. This is called a "bench trial"; and 2) While a conviction of first degree murder triggers an automatic appeal before the Supreme Judicial Court, no automatic appeal follows a conviction of second degree murder

Get Immediate Help Now

If you or someone you care about has been charged with Second Degree Murder in Massachusetts, click on the “Free Arrest Tip Sheet” display button on this page, or just click here. You will receive a FREE document listing the most important action steps that you need to take if you have either already been arrested, or if you feel that you may be arrested soon. This FREE, valuable document will help you to begin to take charge of your situation.

Make The Right Choice In Hiring Your Second Degree Murder Defense Attorney

If you or someone you know is facing a charge of second degree murder in Massachusetts, you’re going to need the best legal talent you can find.Call us at Ph.: (781) 320-0062, or Ph.: (617) 285-3600, and we’ll provide you with a free initial consultation. Or click here for a free consultation. Our defense team will tell you upfront what the weak and strong points are in the commonwealth’s case against you. We will do all this as part of a free initial consultation for 20-30 minutes. Start here to make this situation better than it is now.

Client Reviews
When I was arrested for DUI, I was absolutely terrified. Had it not been for you, I might have been convicted of something I was not at all guilty of. My work life, my family life, my reputation, all could have been destroyed. You stood by me like the legal version of a bodyguard - and because of you, I was found not guilty. G.M.
When we got the call that our son had been arrested and charged with rape, we almost fainted. We know our son. He is not violent; he has never abused anyone, let alone another girl… If not for you and your "take no prisoners" attitude, our son might have been convicted of a crime that would have sent him to state prison. As far as we're concerned, our son owes you his life, and we owe you the world. We will never forget you. A.H. and P.H.
I hired Mr. William D. Kickham for a very important legal issue and I was extremely satisfied by the results. His in depth knowledge about the matter and his intelligent thinking was extremely beneficial. He is really an expert. He was also very supportive and sensitive towards my concerns. It was great to have a lawyer of his capacity. Thanks William for all the Help. N.G.
Atty. Kickham defended me on a charge of raping my girlfriend, who made up the whole story out of revenge because I was interested in someone else. If it weren’t for Attorney Kickham proving me innocent, God knows what might have happened to me. Z.B.
Mr. Kickham represented me on a trumped-up charge of domestic violence. The prosecutor and police wouldn’t back down, even after my spouse told them it was all untrue. They insisted on taking me to trial, and Mr. Kickham never wavered. He was my legal bodyguard, and I was found not guilty. M.B.
Of the many talents Atty. Kickham has, two are these: 1) He is ten times as persuasive as the best lawyer you’ve seen in the movies; and 2) Nothing - but nothing - gets by him. The police arrested me on completely false drug charges, and after a heated courtroom battle, Atty. Kickham won the day. Trust me, it was no surprise. D.C.
Because I mildly disciplined my child for throwing a tantrum, I was actually charged with child abuse. It was horrifying. Atty. Kickham fought for me tooth and nail, until I was declared not guilty. One hell of a lawyer. D.D.
I complimented a co-worker on her looks and patted her on the back as I did so. Two hours later, the police showed up and accused me of indecent assault & battery. From the day I hired him, Atty. Kickham fought the DA’s office until the charges were dropped. If not for him, my life would have been ruined. A.K.