Recent efforts to lower the murder rate in Louisiana have had some effect. According to CBS news, state murder rates fell to a new low in 2018; however, statistics for violent crimes per population remain quite high in nationwide rankings. Both first and second-degree murders occur in cities across the state, and there are several important differences between these types of charges.

First-degree murder is the gravest charge of the two because it involves premeditated planning and the intent to kill. For example, if a man buys a gun with the express purpose of killing his wife because he discovers she is having an affair and carries out the slaying, he would likely be charged with murder in the first degree. If convicted, offenders could face 25 years to life in prison or face the death penalty.

Second-degree murder involves the death of an individual through careless or reckless behavior. While the Federal Bureau of Investigation reports that instances of the main three types of murders dropped in 2018, second-degree murder remains a common offense. First and second-degree murders share the common thread of having the intent to kill; however, the murder often takes place in the heat of the moment, such as a violent argument that turns deadly when one person decides to use a weapon on the other. While the intent is still present, there is no premeditation. Offenders may face life in prison.

While violent crime rates have fallen in the U.S. over the past several years, instances of first and second-degree murder still take place in nearly every state. Offenders may enter a variety of pleas once charged and might choose an answer to the charges based on advice from their attorney.