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Kansas First-Degree Murder

In Kansas there are seven types of criminal homicide: capital murder, first-degree murder, second-degree murder, voluntary manslaughter, involuntary manslaughter, vehicular homicide, and assisting suicide. This article focuses on the two most serious types of criminal homicide, capital murder and first-degree murder.

Capital Murder

Murder is defined slightly differently in each state, but generally means the unlawful killing or another with malice (or the intention or desire to cause harm). Most states, including Kansas, divide murder into separate distinct crimes depending on the circumstances surrounding the killing. Capital murder in Kansas is reserved for the most serious types of murders and is outlined in the table below.

Code Section

Kansas Code section 21-3439: Capital Murder

What's Prohibited?

Killing someone intentionally and with premeditation under any of the following circumstances:
  • While committing kidnapping (or aggravated kidnapping) when the intent was to hold the person for ransom
  • Pursuant to an agreement to kill the victim, or being a party to such a contract
  • When the offender is an inmate in a correctional institution
  • During the commission of (or subsequent to) rape, criminal sodomy, aggravated criminal sodomy, or attempt thereof
  • When the victim is a law enforcement officer
  • When there is more than one person killed as part of the same act or transaction, or in two or more acts connected together as parts of a common scheme
  • When the victim is a child under the age of 14 and was killed during the commission of a kidnapping (or aggravated kidnapping), and the kidnapping was done with the intent to commit a sex offense upon or with the child


Off-grid person felony. Punishable by death.

First-Degree Murder

Killings that don't qualify as capital murder, but that are done intentionally and with premeditation, or during the commission of an inherently dangerous felony, qualify as first-degree murder in Kansas. The table below highlights the main aspects of Kansas' first-degree murder law.

Code Section

Kansas Code section 21-3401: Murder in the First Degree

What's Prohibited?

Killing a human being:
  • Intentionally and with premeditation, or
  • During the commission of, attempted commission of, or flight from an inherently dangerous felony. The "inherently dangerous" felonies are listed in section 21-3436 and include kidnapping, robbery, felony theft, arson, treason, etc.


Off-grid person felony. Generally punishable by life in prison. See section 21-6806.

Additional Resources

State laws change frequently. For case specific information regarding Kansas' capital murder or first-degree murder laws contact a local criminal defense attorney.

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