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Delaware Second-Degree Murder

In Delaware, there are six types of criminal homicide: first-degree murder, second-degree murder, murder by abuse or neglect, manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide, and vehicular homicide. This article briefly outlines Delaware's second-degree murder law.

Code Section

Delaware Code section 635: Murder in the Second Degree

What's Prohibited?

A person commits second-degree murder when:
  • The person recklessly causes the death of another person under circumstances which manifest a cruel, wicked, and depraved indifference to human life, or
  • While engaged in the commission (or attempted commission) of, or flight after committing or attempting to commit any felony, the person, with criminal negligence, causes the death of another person

Penalties

Murder in the second degree is a class A felony.

Murder By Abuse or Neglect

In Delaware, the crime of murder by abusing or neglecting a child is closely related to the crime of second-degree murder as they both can involve a killing done recklessly under cruel circumstances. The crime of murder by abuse or neglect is broken down into two degrees, as the tables below show.

Code Section

Delaware Code section 634: Murder by Abuse or Neglect in the First Degree

What's Prohibited?

A person is guilty of murder by abuse or neglect in the first degree when the person recklessly causes the death of a child:
  • Through an act of abuse and/or neglect of the child, or
  • When the person has engaged in a previous pattern of abuse and/or neglect of the child

Penalties

Murder by abuse or neglect in the first degree is a class A felony.

Code Section

Delaware Code section 633: Murder by Abuse or Neglect in the Second Degree

What's Prohibited?

A person is guilty of murder by abuse or neglect in the second degree when, with criminal negligence, the person causes the death of a child:
  • Through an act of abuse and/or neglect of the child, or
  • When the person has engaged in a previous pattern of abuse and/or neglect of the child

Penalties

Murder by abuse or neglect in the second degree is a class B felony.

Under Delaware's murder by abuse or neglect laws, the following definitions apply:

Abuse: Causing any physical injury to a child through unjustified force, torture, negligent treatment, sexual abuse, exploitation, maltreatment, mistreatment, or any means other than accident.

Neglect: Being responsible for the care, custody, and/or control of a child and, while having the ability and financial means to provide for the care of the child:

  • Fails to provide necessary food, clothing, shelter, education, health, or medical care
  • Chronically and severely abuses alcohol or a controlled substance and the abuse threatens the child's well being, or
  • Fails to provide necessary supervision appropriate for the child's basic needs and safety

Child: Any person who is less than 14 years old.

Previous pattern of abuse and/or neglect: Two or more incidents of conduct that constitute an act of abuse and/or neglect, and aren't so closely related to each other or connected in point of time and place that they constitute a single event.

Additional Resources

State laws change frequently. For case specific information regarding Delaware's second-degree murder law contact a local criminal defense lawyer.

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