Of the many types of violent crimes that exist, most would say that first-degree murder is the most serious. This is especially true since murder can be committed while a person is committing or trying to commit a second violent crime. Maryland has incorporated the felony murder rule that applies in such situations into its first-degree murder statute.
Under Maryland law, murder in the first degree takes place when it is a deliberate, premeditated and willful killing that was committed by lying in wait. First-degree murder can also be charged if the death occurs in the commission of other crimes, including: first-degree arson; first, second or third-degree burglary; carjacking; escape from prison; certain types of kidnapping; mayhem; rape; certain types of robbery; and first or second-degree sexual offense, along with several other felony offenses.
A person is found guilty of first-degree murder will face one of two penalties. One penalty is a life sentence in prison with no possibility of parole. The other penalty is life in prison. Maryland does not have the death penalty.
Given that the stakes are so high, those who are facing charges of first-degree murder will want to carefully review their criminal defense options. It is an incredibly serious crime, but just as with any other crime, those accused of it are still innocent until proven guilty. Moreover, the prosecution must prove every element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt in order to convict the accused. With the right help, it may be possible to craft a solid defense strategy that pokes holes in the prosecution’s case and establishes the accused’s innocence.