Many states today categorize murder into two degrees: first and second, but others have even more degrees based upon motive, intent, or time. Although England had established a set of criteria for the definition of degrees of murder, the Pennsylvania Court in the Act of Assembly of 1794 stated, “All murder which shall be perpetrated by means of poison, or by lying in wait, or by any other kind of wilful, deliberate or premeditated killing or which shall be committed in the perpetration or attempt to perpetrate any arson, rape, robbery or burglary, shall be deemed murder in the first degree; and all other kinds of murder, shall be murder in the second degree.” (Loewy, 2009, p. 20). By defining first degree murder as arson, rape, robbery, or burglary only these offenses would be punishable under the penalty of death. Second degree would not be punishable by death and only carry with it a prison sentence.
Maitland & Pollock (2012), “The word felony derived from the Latin word felo, fell, gall-the word for venom.” When it came around to “felon first appears to mean cruel,...
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First Degree Murder. (2002). In World of Criminal Justice, Gale. Retrieved from http://proxy01.hopkinsville.kctcs.edu/login?qurl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.credoreference.com/entry/worldcrims/first_degree_murder.
Green, T. A. "The jury and the English law of homicide, 1200-1600.". Ann Arbor, MI: Mich. L. Rev. 74 (1976): 413-499.
Dodd, Mead & Company. (1910). Relativity. In The New International Encyclopedia. (Vol. 10, pp. 173). Cambridge, USA: International Encyclopedia.
Rood, J.A. (1906). A digest of important cases: Offenses against the person. St. Louis, MO: Wahr.
Loewy, A.H. (2009). Criminal law: cases and materials: Homicide. (3th ed.). Dayton, OH: Thomas/West.
Pollock, F., & Maitland, F.W. (2012). The history of English law before the time of Edward 1: Crimes and torts. Indianapolis, IN: Liberty Fund.
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