Crimes that involve taking another person's life - regardless of whether the crime is called murder, homicide, manslaughter, or vehicular manslaughter - are the most serious crimes that a person may be charged with. In Michigan, a murder conviction could lead to life imprisonment, the most severe penalty allowed by the Michigan Legislature.
First Degree Murder
First degree murder carries with it a mandatory life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, the most serious penalty allowed under Michigan law. Under MCL 750.316, Michigan’s first degree murder statute, a person may be charged with committing first degree murder if they have committed any of the following:
- A murder perpetrated by means of poison, lying in wait, or any other willful, deliberate, and premeditated killing.
- Felony murder, defined as a murder committed in the perpetration of, or attempt to perpetrate, arson, criminal sexual conduct in the first, second, or third degree, child abuse in the first degree, a major controlled substance offense, robbery, carjacking, breaking and entering of a dwelling, home invasion in the first or second degree, larceny of any kind, extortion, kidnapping, certain types of vulnerable adult abuse, torture, or aggravated stalking.
- A murder of a peace officer or a corrections officer committed while the officer is lawfully engaged in the performance of any of his or her duties as an officer, knowing that the officer is an officer engaged in the performance of his or her duty as a peace officer or corrections officer.
Second Degree Murder
Under MCL 750.317, Michigan’s second degree murder statute, a conviction for second degree murder can result in a conviction of up to life in prison. The second degree murder statute is broad and encompasses “all other kinds of murder,” including drunk driving causing death.