What's the Difference Between Murder and Aggravated Murder?

What's the Difference Between Murder and Aggravated Murder?

In Ohio, if a person is accused of purposely killing another individual, they may be charged under O.R.C. 2903.02 (murder) or O.R.C. 2903.01 (aggravated murder). The latter charge is considered more serious than the former, and several factors determine which law is applied to a particular case.

Regardless of which offense the person is charged with, being convicted of murder or aggravated murder can result in harsh penalties.

What's Murder and What's Aggravated Murder?

Ohio law defines murder as purposely causing someone else's death or unlawfully terminating a pregnancy. The offense also occurs when another person is killed while the alleged offender is either committing or attempting to commit a first- or second-degree felony, unless the offense was voluntary or involuntary manslaughter.

Because aggravated murder is a more severe offense than murder, specific factors must have been apparent in the crime for it to be elevated to this charge.

In Ohio, a person commits aggravated murder when they purposely:

  • With premeditation, cause another's death or the unlawful termination of a pregnancy
  • Cause the death of another or the unlawful termination of pregnancy and they were committing, attempting to commit, or fleeing after committing any of the following offenses:
    • Kidnapping,
    • Rape,
    • Aggravated arson,
    • Arson,
    • Aggravated robbery,
    • Robbery,
    • Aggravated burglary,
    • Burglary,
    • Trespass (when others were present in the habitation),
    • Terrorism, or
    • Escape
  • Kill someone under 13 years of age
  • Cause the death of another while they were incarcerated
  • Kill a law enforcement officer or a first responder

What Are the Punishments for Murder?

Whether a person is convicted of murder or aggravated murder, the penalties are life-altering.

The following sentences may be imposed upon a conviction for murder:

  • Maximum $15,000 fine
  • 15 years to life in prison
  • 30 years to life in prison, if the victim was under 13 years of age and the offense was sexually motivated
  • Life in prison without parole, if the offense was sexually motivated and the defendant was also found guilty of being a sexually violent predator

For aggravated murder, a conviction may result in:

  • Maximum $25,000 fine
  • Life in prison
  • Death

The death sentence may be imposed only if the murder was committed:

  • Upon the President of the United States or a person in line for the presidency,
  • In exchange for something of value,
  • To escape any part of the justice process for another offense,
  • While the defendant was incarcerated or after they escaped incarceration,
  • Upon a law enforcement officer,
  • During the commission or attempted commission of another violent crime,
  • Upon a witness who was going to testify in a case for another offense,
  • Upon a person under 13 years of age, and/or
  • While the defendant was committing, attempting to commit, or fleeing after committing an act of terrorism

Additionally, the death penalty cannot be imposed upon a person who was under 18 years of age at the time of the offense.

At Rion, Rion & Rion, our Dayton lawyers stand up for individuals facing criminal accusations. If you've been charged with a crime, get the defense you need by calling us at (937) 223-9133 or contacting us online today.

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