The crime of murder one, in Colorado, is the most severe type of homicide charge. There are several ways in which one may commit a murder in the first degree.
The criminal code at section 18-3-102 provides the elements needed by the state to prove a person guilty of murder in the first degree. To obtain a conviction for first degree murder, the state must prove every element of its case beyond a reasonable doubt.
Premeditation and intent
First, the person allegedly committing murder in the first degree must have engaged in a level of deliberation before committing the act. This would typically mean premeditation or forethought. The defendant must also have actually intended the death of another.
However, if the person who died by the act was different from the person the defendant intended to kill, murder one is still applicable. This is so even if the defendant did not end the life of the person he intended to kill.
Death of another occurring while committing serious crime
Another form of first degree murder occurs if a third party is killed while the defendant, with or without accomplices, is committing or attempting to commit certain crimes. Typically, that third party would be an innocent bystander. These crimes include arson, kidnapping, certain sexual assaults, robbery and burglary, and fleeing from the commission of a crime.
Malice and severe indifference to human life
If a person engages in activity that causes a "grave" risk of death to another, and another dies as a result, purpose or intent is not a requirement for a finding of guilt. Rather, a mindset of malice and extreme indifference to human life may suffice under the law.
Drug dealing and death of a minor
Dealing drugs, namely controlled substances, to a minor on school property, and thereby causing the death of that child, may also constitute murder in the first degree. In addition, if a defendant was a person in a position of trust to a child under age 12, and he or she knowingly causes that child to die, the person may be subject to a murder one charge.
Perjury leading to death penalty and execution of another
First degree murder can also be charged if someone perjures himself or herself, causing an innocent person to suffer a conviction and execution.
Murder in the first degree is a Class one felony. Because it is a high-profile crime, prosecutors exert great effort to investigate and pursue convictions. A person charged with murder one needs strong and tenacious representation from an experienced defense lawyer.