750.316 First Degree Murder

In Michigan, first-degree murder is a felony offense which may occur under the following circumstances:

  1. the individual accused of committing the crime has killed another person while lying in wait, through the use of poison, or in any other manner considered deliberate or premeditated
  2. the individual accused of committing the crime has killed another person while perpetrating or attempting to penetrate a crime including arson, first-degree child abuse, first-, second-, or third-degree criminal sexual conduct, carjacking, any major drug offense, first- or second-degree home invasion, robbery, breaking and entering of a dwelling, extortion, kidnapping, larceny, aggravated stalking, torture, or first- or second-degree vulnerable adult abuse
  3. the individual accused of committing the crime has killed a corrections or peace officer while the officer was lawfully engaged in the performance of his/her duties as a police officer

Requisite for First Degree Murder Under Michigan Penal Law: Premeditation

Murder is the most serious and heinous criminal offense an individual may be accused of committing, and results in life-changing criminal penalties for those convicted. First-degree murder requires that the prosecutor prove premeditation in order for the defendant to be found guilty.

Punishment for First-Degree Murder in Michigan

The criminal penalties for a conviction of first-degree murder include life in Michigan state prison without the possibility of parole. While the death penalty is not allowed under Michigan law, some circumstances may involve a defendant being charged under the Federal murder statute. In this case, the death penalty may be allowed in certain situations.

Individuals convicted of first-degree murder will have a permanent criminal record. In a situation where the victim lost his or her life as a result of rape, sexual assault, or other sex offense, the defendant may be convicted of that crime along with charges of murder. In this case, the defendant may be placed on the Michigan Public Sex Offender Registry.

Crimes Related to First Degree Murder

There are three other crimes closely related to first-degree murder. These include:

  • Second-degree murder
  • Manslaughter, involuntary manslaughter

History of Success in the Defense of Clients Charged with Homicide

Grabel & Associates has aggressively defended clients charged with all types of homicide charges, including first-degree murder. We have been highly successful in defending clients charged with all types of criminal offenses, and on many occasions have had charges dismissed or obtained acquittals; we have also experience with criminal appeals.

There are a number of defenses which may prove to be effective in defending first-degree murder charges. It may be that the defendant was wrongly accused, or acted in self-defense of him- or herself or others. Prosecutors must prove premeditation in first-degree murder. Defendants convicted of first-degree murder may want to consider seeking post-conviction relief, or appeal the conviction to the Michigan Court of Appeals.

THE MICHIGAN PENAL CODE (EXCERPT)
Act 328 of 1931

750.316 First degree murder; penalty; definitions.

Sec. 316.

(1) Except as provided in sections 25 and 25a of chapter IX of the code of criminal procedure, 1927 PA 175, MCL 769.25 and 769.25a, a person who commits any of the following is guilty of first degree murder and shall be punished by imprisonment for life without eligibility for parole:

(a) Murder perpetrated by means of poison, lying in wait, or any other willful, deliberate, and premeditated killing.

(b) 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, vulnerable adult abuse in the first or second degree under section 145n, torture under section 85, or aggravated stalking under section 411i.

(c) A murder of a peace officer or a corrections officer committed while the peace officer or corrections officer is lawfully engaged in the performance of any of his or her duties as a peace officer or corrections officer, knowing that the peace officer or corrections officer is a peace officer or corrections officer engaged in the performance of his or her duty as a peace officer or corrections officer.

(2) As used in this section:

(a) "Arson" means a felony violation of chapter X.

(b) "Corrections officer" means any of the following:

(i) A prison or jail guard or other prison or jail personnel.

(ii) Any of the personnel of a boot camp, special alternative incarceration unit, or other minimum-security correctional facility.

(iii) A parole or probation officer.

(c) "Major controlled substance offense" means any of the following:

(i) A violation of section 7401(2)(a)(i) to (iii) of the public health code, 1978 PA 368, MCL 333.7401.

(ii) A violation of section 7403(2)(a)(i) to (iii) of the public health code, 1978 PA 368, MCL 333.7403.

(iii) A conspiracy to commit an offense listed in subparagraph (i) or (ii).

(d) "Peace officer" means any of the following:

(i) A police or conservation officer of this state or a political subdivision of this state.

(ii) A police or conservation officer of the United States.

(iii) A police or conservation officer of another state or a political subdivision of another state.

History: 1931, Act 328, Eff. Sept. 18, 1931 ;-- CL 1948, 750.316 ;-- Am. 1969, Act 331, Eff. Mar. 20, 1970 ;-- Am. 1980, Act 28, Imd. Eff. Mar. 7, 1980 ;-- Am. 1994, Act 267, Eff. Oct. 1, 1994 ;-- Am. 1996, Act 20, Eff. Apr. 1, 1996 ;-- Am. 1996, Act 21, Eff. Apr. 1, 1996 ;-- Am. 1999, Act 189, Eff. Apr. 1, 2000 ;-- Am. 2004, Act 58, Eff. June 11, 2004 ;-- Am. 2006, Act 415, Eff. Dec. 1, 2006 ;-- Am. 2013, Act 39, Imd. Eff. June 4, 2013 ;-- Am. 2014, Act 23, Imd. Eff. Mar. 4, 2014

Constitutionality: This section, which provides a mandatory life sentence for first degree murder, does not violate constitutional guarantees of due process and equal protection or the guarantee against cruel and unusual punishment. People v Hall, 396 Mich 650; 242 NW2d 377 (1976).The use of common-law definition of rape in this section, until it was amended by 1980 PA 28, does not violate the equal protection clause. People v McDonald, 409 Mich 110; 293 NW2d 588 (1980).In People v Gay, 407 Mich 681; 289 NW2d 651 (1980), the Michigan supreme court held that the prosecution of defendants under this section subsequent to their convictions in federal court for the same acts is limited by the double jeopardy clause of the Michigan constitution. In People v Wilder, 411 Mich 328; 308 NW2d 112 (1981), the Michigan supreme court held that conviction and sentence for both first-degree felony murder and the underlying felony of armed robbery violates the state constitutional prohibition against double jeopardy.A mandatory life sentence imposed for conspiracy to commit first-degree, even if nonparolable, is not so excessive as to constitute cruel and unusual punishment; nor does it violate the Equal Protection Clauses of the Michigan and United States Constitutions. People v Fernandez, 427 Mich 321; 398 NW2d 311 (1986).

Former Law: See section 1 of Ch. 153 of R.S. 1846, being CL 1857, § 5711; CL 1871, § 7510; How., § 9075; CL 1897, § 11470; CL 1915, § 15192; and CL 1929, § 16708.