What is the minimum and maximum penalty for premeditated murder in the US?
does it differ state by state?

  • Depends on the State en.wikipedia.org/wiki/…
    – Alex
    Commented Jul 5, 2017 at 8:48
  • Also depends on what murder is. Is manslaughter murder? How about self-defense? Note that in some states, manslaughter will be charged as a type 3 homicide or similar (type 1 is planned murder; type 2 is heat of the moment; type 3 is accidental--and those definitions are going to be state specific as well). If someone kills someone but pleads down to reckless endangerment, is that murder? The whole concept of a "minimum" penalty is a bit fuzzy. What if they get away with it? No punishment at all.
    – Brythan
    Commented Jul 5, 2017 at 13:58
  • 1
    @Brythan from the legal perspective it is quite well established that manslaughter and reckless endangerment are not murder. They are three distinct criminal offences. A penalty for manslaughter or reckless endangerment is not a penalty for murder.
    – phoog
    Commented Jul 5, 2017 at 14:55
  • Also, if we look at ordinary language, and not at legal language, then I think "premeditated murder" in ordinary language wouldn't be a "manslaughter" in legal language. You can't plan manslaughter.
    – gnasher729
    Commented Jul 12, 2017 at 10:39

1 Answer 1


Minimum of 10 years and a maximum of life without the possibility of parole or execution. It varies from state to state however and these are only the widest parameters. See here for a state by state breakdown.

  • You have a bad URL. Commented Jul 6, 2017 at 1:46
  • @BlueDogRanch Fixed thanks for pointing it out Commented Jul 6, 2017 at 1:50
  • Several states (Illinois 4 years, Arkansas 6 years, Virginia and Texas 5 years) have a minimum penalty of less than 10 years for premeditated murder which often includes premeditated murder per the link in this answer. Also, in many states, term of years sentences can be reduced by 25%-50% for good behavior while incarcerated, so a year in one state may not be exactly comparable to a year in another.
    – ohwilleke
    Commented Jul 7, 2017 at 17:02

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .