Premeditated Conduct

Premeditation refers to the act of thinking about doing something, specifically, committing a crime, before doing it. It implies that you had enough time to think this through before going ahead with it. A premeditated conduct can take place in mere seconds, like when someone decides to pick up a bat that is lying there before bashing someone’s head with it.

On the other hand, a deliberated conduct means that the defendant has thought about carrying out the act and is aware of the consequences but nonetheless decides to follow through with it. In this case, there is no immediate provocation nor is there the heat of passion. Yet, even if the defendant claims that they were feeling excited or angry, it doesn’t mean that they did not deliberate before acting.

How is “Killing with premeditation” defined?

Killing with premeditation refers to the act of killing after consciously deciding to do so. The decision must be present in the mind of the individual at the time of the killing. The law does not fix the exact period of time that must pass between the formation of the premeditated intent to kill and the killing. The period of time must be long enough to allow reflection by the defendant. The premeditated intent to kill must be formed before the killing.

How much time is required for premeditation or deliberation to be present?

In either one of these cases, the amount of time needed to hatch the plan or just act can be quite short. A matter of minutes turns out to be plenty of time as long as the thought process takes place before the act is committed.

Why is it important to prove premeditation?

As an element of first-degree murder, premeditation shows the element of intent needed to get a conviction for the crime. Although the amount of time that needs to elapse between the act of planning and the actual act is determined on a case by case basis. It is not a period of time that can be arbitrarily fixed. The element of time varies because:
  • People differ
  • Temperaments differ
  • Circumstances differ

What elements must the State prove in cases of first-degree premeditated murder?

In order to prove the crime of First-Degree Premeditated Murder, the State must prove the following three elements beyond a reasonable doubt:
  • That the victim is dead.
  • That the death was caused by the criminal act carried out by the defendant
  • That the killing of the victim was a premeditated act

Proving the Existence of Premeditated Conduct During a Trial

The question of premeditation will need to be determined from the evidence. There needs to be sufficient proof of premeditation if the circumstances of the killing and the conduct of the accused convince the jury beyond a reasonable doubt of the existence of premeditation at the time of the killing.

If reasonable doubt exists about whether the defendant acted with premeditation in order to kill because they acted in the heat of passion based on suitable provocation, they will not be found guilty of First-Degree Premeditated Murder.

If you have been charged with premeditated conduct and are facing charges for first-degree murder, please visit our website to get more information and find the legal help you need right now. Get in touch with our office today to get started.