In Kenya, first-degree murder is a premeditated act. This means that a person accused of first-degree murder planned how to execute the deed knew the consequences of their actions and were not mistaken about the outcome of their actions. Below is a look at what is required to prove first-degree murder and the punishment for this crime.
Factors Required to Prove First Degree Murder
For a person to be accused of first-degree murder, three conditions need to be satisfied.
First, the prosecution needs to prove the fact that the death of a person has occurred. Secondly, the death of the deceased must have been as a result of an unlawful act or omission on the part of the deceased. This is also known as the “actus reus” of the offense.
Thirdly, the prosecution needs to prove that the act or omission was committed with malice aforethought, also known as the “mens rea” of the offense.
What is Malice Aforethought?
According to section 203 of the Penal Code, a person who of malice aforethought causes the death of another person is guilty of murder. Malice aforethought can be established if:
- There is an attempt to cause death or grievous harm to a person
- Knowledge that one’s action will cause the death of a person or grievously harm a person
Provocation to Kill
A person may not be charged for first-degree murder if they acted in self-defense. If a murder was committed after provocation to kill, a person may be charged with manslaughter. The prosecution has to prove beyond all reasonable doubt that there was an intention or malice aforethought to commit murder for a person to be sentenced for first-degree murder.
Penalty for First Degree Murder
Any person accused of first-degree murder faced the death sentence. However, changes in the Kenyan constitution have outlawed the death sentence. A person who is guilty of first-degree murder will be sentenced to life imprisonment.