Legal Dictionary

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Degrees of Murder

First Degree Murder is all murder committed by means of:

  1. Destructive device or explosive
  2. A weapon of mass destruction
  3. Knowing use of ammunition designed primarily to penetrate metal or armor
  4. Poison
  5. Lying in Wait
  6. Torture
  7. Any willful, deliberate, and premeditated killing, or
  8. A killing committed during the perpetration or attempt to perpetrate:
  • Arson
  • Burglary
  • Carjacking
  • Child sexual abuse
  • Drive-by shooting
  • Mayhem
  • Kidnapping
  • Train wrecking
  • Lewd acts with a child
  • Oral sex by force, threat or fear or oral sex with a child or minor
  • Rape
  • Rape or sexual penetration with a foreign object
  • Robbery
  • Sodomy with a child or minor
  • Sodomy by force, threat or fear
  • Torture.

All other kinds of murder are Second Degree.

The punishment for First Degree Murder is death, life in prison without parole (LWOP), or 25 years to life in prison. California Penal Code 189.