In most cases, one of the facts that determine if something constitutes murder is whether or not it was premeditated. To qualify as murder, the person usually has to have intent to take a life, meaning they at least gave it some amount of thought beforehand and then acted upon those thoughts.
The difference between a premeditated killing and an accidental killing is that the accident may be considered manslaughter, rather than murder. In fact, it is a very common defense for those being charged with murder to say that they had no intent to kill, even if they can’t deny the outcome.
However, there is one key example where premeditation is not required. This is known as a felony murder.
What is a felony murder?
This type of felony murder charge happens when someone is committing a felony and then they accidentally take another person’s life at the same time. They never intended to commit murder, but they did intend to commit a serious crime, and that led to the death.
One example could be if a homeowner tries to flee a home during a robbery and accidentally suffers a fatal injury. Another example could be if someone has committed a felony and is running from the police when they strike another car, causing a fatal accident. The idea is that the loss of life never would have happened without the commission of a felony crime, so murder charges are still on the table.
As you can see, understanding the intricacies of the law is incredibly important as you consider your criminal defense options.