What is Murder in Pennsylvania?

What is Murder in Pennsylvania?

In Pennsylvania, Murder, also referred to as Homicide, includes multiple types of crimes resulting in the death of another.  Any form of Murder or Homicide is the most severe crime in Pennsylvania and carries the highest level of punishment, Life in Prison, or the Death Penalty.  So: What is Murder in Pennsylvania?

Murder – Homicide in Pennsylvania

Chapter 25 of the Pennsylvania Crimes Code contains seven sections relating to crimes that result in the death of another person.  18 Pa.S.C. 2501 defines Murder – Homicide as:

A person is guilty of criminal Homicide if he intentionally, knowingly, recklessly, or negligently causes the death of another human being.  Criminal Homicide shall be classified as Murder, voluntary manslaughter, or involuntary manslaughter.

Types of Murder – Homicide in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania delineates five levels of Murder: 

First Degree Murder: §2502(a) – A criminal homicide constitutes Murder of the first degree when it is committed by an intentional killing. (the category of Murder where the defendant meant to take the life of the other person; not an accident, not a mistake, the whole purpose of acting was to kill, no more, no less. 

– Punishment of Death or Life in Prison w/out Parole 

Second Degree Murder: §2502(b) – A criminal homicide constitutes Murder of the second degree when it is committed while the defendant was engaged as a principal or an accomplice in the perpetration of a felony. (if while committing a felony crime such as Burglary, Robbery, Kidnapping, Arson, or Rape, someone is killed, the person(s) committing the felony are guilty of second-degree murder; intent does not matter; this is also referred to as felony murder) 

– Punishment of Life in Prison w/ out Parole 

Third Degree Murder: §2502(c) – All other forms of Murder shall be Murder of the third degree. Murder of the third degree is a felony of the first degree.  Murder in the third degree means that you killed someone in a way that was not intentional and that was not perpetrated while you were committing a felony. (You can commit Murder in the third degree if you give someone or sell them a controlled substance or a counterfeit controlled substance, and that person dies as a result of using that drug). 

– Punishment of up to 40 Years in Prison

Voluntary Manslaughter: §2503 – A person who kills an individual without lawful justification commits voluntary manslaughter if at the time of the killing he is acting under a sudden and intense passion resulting from serious provocation by: 

(1)  the individual killed; or

(2)  another whom the actor endeavors to kill, but he negligently or accidentally causes the death of the individual killed. 

Voluntary manslaughter is a felony of the first degree.  This is also referred to as a “Passion Killing.”  The classic example is a husband walking in on his wife in bed with another man, and husband losing his mind and killing both in the heat of the moment.  The actions causing another’s death must be practically instantaneous after or during the shocking event.  Any gap in time, allowing for clear thought, is not acceptable.

– Punishment of up to 20 Years in Prison 

Involuntary Manslaughter: §2504 – A person is guilty of involuntary manslaughter when as a direct result of doing an unlawful act in a reckless or grossly negligent manner, or the doing of a lawful act in a reckless or grossly negligent way, he causes the death of another person.

Involuntary manslaughter is a misdemeanor of the first degree. Where the victim is under 12 years of age and is in the care, custody, or control of the person who caused the death, involuntary manslaughter is a felony of the second degree.

            Examples are

– Carelessly play or clean a loaded handgun, and the gun goes off and kills your friend. 

 – Throw a cinder block off an overpass onto moving cars, and someone is killed.

How Paul S. Peters III, Esquire Can Help

Facing a Murder charge is a severe and grave situation.  A Murder conviction will result in life in prison or a lengthy prison term.  You need a Criminal Defense Attorney, like Attorney Peters, who will stand by you every step of the way, work tirelessly to discredit any evidence, aggressively advocate for you, and work with you to determine the best strategy to achieve the best possible result.  Do not waste time or make the wrong decision concerning a Murder charge.

Murder Charges create complicated fact scenarios with serious consequences if convicted, therefore, these cases require that you have an experienced, knowledgeable, and aggressive defense attorney to craft and present clear and convincing arguments challenging the evidence, and careful and precise cross-examination to shed doubt on the testimony of witnesses.  This is why you need a trusted and experienced criminal defense attorney such as Paul S. Peters III, Esquire.

If you or a loved one face Murder Charges, you MUST call Attorney Paul S. Peters III, Esquire 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and he can appear at late night bail hearings.  Attorney Paul S. Peters III, Esquire knows that crime and the police never sleep.






If you are arrested in any of the following Pennsylvania Counties:            MontgomeryPhiladelphiaBucksDelawareChesterLehigh, LancasterNorthamptonBerksAdamsCumberlandDauphinFranklinFultonHuntingtonJuniataLebanonMifflinPerrySnyderYork BradfordCameronCentreClintonLycomingMontourNorthumberlandPotterSullivanTiogaUnionCarbonColumbiaLackawannaLuzerneMonroePikeSchuylkillSusquehannaWayne, and Wyoming County 

It is important you contact the trusted, aggressive, and experienced Pennsylvania Criminal Defense Attorney:


Paul S. Peters III, Esquire at: