Impacts of Committing First-Degree Murder Unintentionally
First-degree murder is the most serious crime you can be charged with, as taking someone’s life is punished harder than any other crime. In North Carolina, first-degree murder is a Class 1 felony punishable by death or life without parole. However, it is possible to commit this offense unintentionally.
The felony murder rule is a law that allows a person to get charged with first-degree murder even if they did not intentionally kill or directly cause another person’s death. Here’s how it works.
If you are in the process of committing a serious felony crime, such as breaking and entering, and someone dies, you can be charged with first-degree murder. For example, if you break into someone’s house, which is a felony, and they fall down the stairs and break their neck while chasing you out of the house, the court could charge you with first-degree murder as a result.
How is this scenario different from manslaughter, you ask? Good question. Manslaughter occurs when a person unintentionally kills someone in the heat of passion. However, this crime carries less serious consequences than first-degree murder. Voluntary manslaughter is a Class D felony punishable by up to 17 years in prison and involuntary manslaughter is a Class F felony punishable by up to nearly 5 years in prison, for instance.
Recently, rapper YFN Lucci was under investigation for felony murder. YFN Lucci is wanted for the following crimes:
- felony murder
- aggravated assault
- participation in criminal street gang activity
- possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony
For YFN Lucci to get a felony murder charge, there must be an underlying felony, which is likely aggravated assault in his case. Let’s say during the commission of the assault, someone died. However, the assault didn’t directly cause the victim’s death; they had a heart attack during the offense. As a result, YFN Lucci could be charged with first-degree murder whether or not his alleged assault crime directly caused the person’s death. This example demonstrates how the felony murder rule may apply to the rapper’s case.