The Hive Law

How Long Do You Go To Jail For Murdering Someone? (Shocking Laws)

How Long Do You Go To Jail For Murdering Someone

How long do you go to jail for murdering someone?

In this article, you’ll learn about:

  • how much time you’ll spend in jail for murdering someone
  • the different prison terms for the different degrees of murder
  • the most common murder sentences
  • the murder, homicide, and manslaughter prison terms by state
  • how self-defense plays into your charges
  • when will you get the death penalty

Let’s dig in.

Table of Contents

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How Long Do You Go To Jail For Murdering Someone?

You’ll likely go to jail for life without parole for murdering someone.

This is the most common length of time in jail for murdering someone.

But, the penalties for murdering someone range from 10 years in jail to the death penalty.

Read More: What Are 1st, 2nd, and 3rd-Degree Murders

Prison Sentences For Murder, Homicide, And Manslaughter

 MurderHomicideManslaughter
Most CommonLife without Parole10 - 15 years5 - 10 years
Minimum Sentence10 yearsProbationProbation
Maximum SentenceDeath PenaltyLifeLife

Murder Charges

Let’s look at how long you go to jail for murdering someone:

  • the most common sentence is life imprisonment without parole
  • the minimum sentence is 10 years in prison
  • the most extreme sentence is the death penalty

Some states give you the possibility of parole on your life sentence, like:

  • Arizona
  • Iowa
  • Louisiana
  • Massachusetts
  • Montana
  • New Mexico
  • Oregon
  • South Dakota

The possibility of parole gets granted by the parole board.

They review your criminal record and behavior in prison.

Read More: Homicide vs Murder

Homicide Charges

Let’s look at how long you go to jail for homicide:

  • the most common sentence is 10 – 15 years in prison
  • the minimum sentence is probation
  • the most extreme sentence is life in prison

Read More: How Many Murders Go Unsolved

Manslaughter Charges

Let’s look at how long you go to jail for manslaughter:

  • the most common sentence is 5 – 15 years in prison
  • the minimum sentence is probation
  • the most extreme sentence is life in prison

You spend less time in jail for manslaughter than for murder.

Manslaughter is a killing that occurred without the intent to cause death or serious bodily injury.

Manslaughter is the unlawful killing of another human being without:

  • malice aforethought
  • premeditation

Note the term “unlawful.”

That’s there because soldiers can kill someone in war “lawfully” without getting in trouble.

How Long You Can Go To Jail Per State

StateMurderHomicideManslaughter
AlabamaLife2020
Alaska991020
ArizonaLife or Death PenaltyLife15
Arkansas40Life10
CaliforniaLifeLife11
ColoradoLife or Death PenaltyLife20
Connecticut602520
DelawareLife2525
FloridaLife or Death PenaltyLife30
GeorgiaLife3020
HawaiiLife2010
IdahoLifeLife15
Illinois20205
Indiana655025
IowaLifeLife10
KansasLife4141
KentuckyLife2010
LouisianaLife4040
MaineLife3030
MarylandLifeLife10
MassachusettsLifeLife20
MichiganLife2015
Minnesota401510
MississippiMandatory Life2020
MissouriLife1515
MontanaLife10020
NebraskaLife or Death PenaltyLife20
NevadaLife1515
New HampshireLife or Death PenaltyLife15
New Jersey301010
New MexicoLifeLife15
New YorkLife2525
North CarolinaLife or Death PenaltyLife15
North DakotaLife or Death PenaltyLife10
OhioLife1111
OklahomaLifeLifeLife
OregonLife2010
PennsylvaniaLife4010
Rhode IslandLife5030
South CarolinaLife3030
South DakotaLife or Death PenaltyLife15
TennesseeLifeLife15
Texas992010
UtahLife1515
VermontLifeLife30
VirginiaLife2010
WashingtonLifeLife20
West VirginiaLifeLife15
WisconsinLife6040
WyomingLife or Death PenaltyLife20

Degrees Of Murder

These are the different degrees of murder.

This list shows the most common prison terms in America.

  • First-Degree Murder: Life in Prison (or Death Penalty in some states)
  • Second-Degree Murder: 10 – 25 Years in Prison
  • Third-Degree Murder: 5 – 15 Years in Prison
  • Voluntary Manslaughter: 5 – 15 Years in Prison
  • Involuntary Manslaughter: 5 – 15 Years in Prison

These prison sentences vary by state.

What Is First-Degree Murder?

First-degree murder is the most serious crime when it comes to murder cases.

These are premeditated, intentional, and planned murders.

For first-degree murder, you will go to jail for life.

Some states will even give you the death penalty for first-degree murder.

What Is Second-Degree Murder?

Second-degree murders are intentionally killing another human being.

These are NOT premeditated or planned murders.

You are likely to spend 10 – 25 years in jail for second-degree murder.

What Is Third-Degree Murder?

Third-degree murders are unintentionally killing another human being.

Some examples of third-degree murder are:

  • vehicular homicide
  • accidental shootings
  • cases of medical malpractice

These are similar to manslaughters.

You’re likely to spend 5 – 15 years in prison for third-degree murders.

What Is Voluntary Manslaughter?

Manslaughter is still murdering someone.

But it differs because it’s a murder resulting from sudden passion or provocation.

Voluntary manslaughter carries a shorter jail sentence than murder.

Voluntary manslaughter examples include:

  • killing someone during a fight
  • killing someone when you catch your spouse cheating

Voluntary manslaughter can land you with a misdemeanor in areas like Los Angeles, California.

But only if you acted out of provocation, fear, or the heat of passion when you kill someone.

You’re likely to spend 5 – 15 years in prison for voluntary manslaughter.

Read More: What Is Attempted Manslaughter

What Is Involuntary Manslaughter?

Involuntary manslaughter is an unintentional killing resulting from:

  • recklessness
  • criminal negligence

Some examples of involuntary manslaughter are taking a human life by:

  • driving under the influence
  • firing a gun into a crowd
  • failing to provide the proper medical care
  • reckless driving
  • failing to provide the proper safety equipment

Involuntary manslaughter is less serious than a normal murder conviction.

You’re likely to spend 5 – 15 years in prison for involuntary manslaughter.

Read More: What Is 3rd-Degree Manslaughter

Special Circumstances For Going To Jail For Murder

Let’s look at some special circumstances for criminal cases involving murder.

Aggravated Manslaughter

Aggravate manslaughter is committing a homicide.

But the homicide is a result of extreme recklessness or indifference.

Aggravating factors that make manslaughter “aggravated” are:

  • using a deadly weapon
  • committing the act in the presence of a child (i.e., under 18 years of age)
  • killing a vulnerable person
  • demonstrating a disregard for public safety
  • killing multiple victims
  • killing a law enforcement officer
  • killing a public official
  • killing based on hate or prejudice
  • hate crimes

On average, you’ll spend 10 – 30 years in state prison for aggravated manslaughter.

Most states have a minimum of 10 years in prison for aggravated manslaughter.

Capital Murder

Capital murder is a premeditated and intentional murder of a human being.

It’s considered heinous and depraved, which makes it punishable by death.

Capital murders are murders that include scenarios, like killing:

  • multiple people at once
  • a police officer
  • a public official
  • someone during dangerous felonies like rape or robberies

Let’s look at how long you’ll go to jail for capital murders.

  • the most common sentence is life without parole
  • the minimum sentence is probation
  • the maximum sentence is the death penalty

All 50 states have capital murder laws.

But not all 50 states have the death penalty for capital murder.

These are the 28 states that have a death penalty for capital.

  • Alabama
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Idaho
  • Indiana
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • North Carolina
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Virginia

Felony Murders

A felony murder is a murder that happens when you’re committing a felony.

(Criminal law penal codes state that it’s murder during the “commission of a felony.”)

You do not have to be the person who kills another human being to get this charge.

Let’s say that you’re committing a robbery, which is a felony.

And that the person you’re robbing shoots and kills your partner.

The person who shot your partner will not get charged with murder.

You will get charged with the murder of your partner.

Because the murder occurred due to the felony that you were committing.

Other examples of felonies would be:

  • burglary
  • kidnapping
  • arson
  • rape

Let’s look at how long you’ll go to jail for felony murders.

  • the most common sentences vary too much between states to make a claim
  • the minimum term is 5 years in prison
  • the maximum sentence is life without parole

Vehicular Manslaughter

Vehicular manslaughter is causing serious injuries with a car that leads to death.

You can commit vehicular manslaughter if you:

These are accidental vehicle deaths that stem from severe bodily injury.

Killing Someone In Self-Defense

You can get charged with murder even if you kill someone in self-defense.

Self-defense means that you use enough force to stop the threat.

To dismiss your murder charges with self-defense, you have to have:

  • had a reasonable fear of imminent threat
  • used no more force than what was necessary
  • only used enough force to protect yourself
  • not been the initial aggressor

If you can meet these criteria, you could get off without going to jail.

You will need a criminal defense lawyer to help prove your case.

Fill out the form on this page for a free consultation with our law firm.

FAQs About Going To Jail For Murdering Someone

These are the most common questions we get about going to jail for murdering someone. 

How Can You Be Guilty Of Murder And Manslaughter?

You cannot be guilty of murder and manslaughter at the same time.

They are two different criminal offenses.

They require different levels of intent behind killing someone.

Murder is killing someone with malice aforethought.

Manslaughter is killing someone without malice aforethought.

What's The Difference Between Killed And Murdered?

The difference between killed and murdered is that:

  • killed encompasses any death caused by an intentional act
  • murder is killing that is premeditated and has malicious intent

Can You Go To Jail For Killing Someone In Self Defense?

You cannot get held criminally liable for killing someone in self-defense.

But, self-defense has to get proven by your criminal defense attorney.

Let’s say that the courts determine deadly force was unnecessary or excessive.

Then, you’ll go to jail for killing someone in self-defense.

Going To Jail For Murdering Someone

If you are facing a murder conviction, fill out the form on this page.

Our criminal defense attorneys have the experience you need to defend your rights.

This way, you don’t:

  • get wrongfully convicted of criminal homicide
  • spend decades in jail needlessly
  • never see your family or loved ones again
  • get wrongfully accused of a serious crime by police officers

You deserve a fair trial in the criminal justice system.

And, if you acted in self-defense, you need someone who can prove that.

We can provide you with that.

Talk soon.

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We run out of free consultations every month. Sign up to make sure you get your free consultation. (Free $350 value.)

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