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Types of Homicide and Degrees of Murder

Under American law, many crimes, such as theft and homicide, are divided into degrees. For example, states often divide theft into two degrees, grand and petty theft, the dividing line being a predesignated dollar value.

Determining the degree of a homicide under American law, on the other hand, is highly complicated. The federal government and each American state have developed their own unique degree schemes, creating a patchwork grading system that can confuse even the most stout-hearted legal scholar.

There are no magical numerical cutoffs in homicide law. Jurors must consider the unique circumstances of each death and juggle ethereal concepts such as blameworthiness in light of universal human frailty. Before rendering a decision, jurors must weigh the manner of the killing—was it committed with quick ...

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