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Understanding the Distinction Between First Degree and Second Degree Homicide in Wisconsin

On behalf of J. Kippa Law, LLC | August 19, 2021

At any time, defendants, plaintiffs, lawyers, and other professionals in Wisconsin may need to understand the distinction between degrees of homicide in Wisconsin. The following article clarifies the distinction between first and second degree homicide to help an individual better understand the circumstances of a particular case.

First Degree Murder

First degree murder refers to the intentional killing (or causing the killing) of another person, and carries a term of life imprisonment. It is the most serious Wisconsin charge.

Second Degree Murder

In Wisconsin, second degree murder is known as an “aggravated or excessively reckless homicide.” It differs from first degree murder in that there are mitigating circumstances affecting how “intentional” the crime was. These may include:

  • Adequate provocation, meaning some type of provocation caused the defendant to abnormally lose control and commit murder
  • Unnecessary defensive force, meaning the defendant claims he or she murdered in self-defense (but the justification is not sufficient to excuse the subsequent murder)
  • Prevention of felony, meaning the defendant claims the murder was committed to prevent a felony (but the excuse is not considered reasonable)
  • Coercion or necessity, meaning the defendant felt they had to murder to prevent some other ill fate

The minimum penalty for second degree murder is 60 years in prison. A homicide charge will stay on an individual’s record for life.

Navigating Defense Strategies

A Wisconsin criminal attorney is necessary in defending against either first degree or second degree murder charges. In many cases, the job of a Wisconsin homicide lawyer will be to reduce first degree charges to second degree charges. This will mean admitting to the murder, but it will also allow room to justify the murder. In general, justification will be based on the mitigating strategies listed above.

Contact J. Kippa Law Office Today

Kippa Law Office has a wealth of experience in criminal defense. If you are in need of a Wisconsin criminal lawyer, contact us today to review the details of your situation and begin working on your case.

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