What is the difference between murder and aggravated murder?

Answer

Criminal defense attorney, Adam Burke, describes murder as the act of purposely causing someone's death while committing an unlawful act. He goes on to describe aggravated murder as causing another person's death while committing additional criminal acts during perpetration of the crime.

Burke explains that murder is classified as either a first degree or second degree felony. For example, two friends argue and get into a brawl, and one friend dies as a result of his injuries. The friend that's responsible for the deadly blows could be charged with murder even if there was no intent to kill. Aggravating circumstances for murder are likely to come into play when a spouse plans the murder of her partner for purposes of collecting insurance money. The planning is what elevates it to the more serious charge.

Burke notes that when aggravating circumstances arise in addition to killing, penalties are much stiffer. For example, two people rob a convenience store at gunpoint. One of the robbers shoots and kills the store clerk. Both criminals flee with the money. Upon capture, both defendants are booked on a charge of aggravated murder. Intentionally killing a child under the age of 13 or killing a law enforcement officer are other criminal acts that qualify as aggravated murder. Individuals convicted of these crimes receive long prison terms or the death penalty.

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