History of Nebraska's 2nd Degree Murder
and Manslaughter Statutes



Nebraska's 2nd degree murder statute before the 1977 change

§28-402 Murder in the second degree, defined; penalty.
Whoever shall purposely and maliciously, but without deliberation and premeditation, kill another, every such person shall be deemed guilty of murder in the second degree; and upon conviction thereof shall be imprisoned in the Nebraska Penal and Correctional Complex not less than ten years, or during life.

In the old criminal code each statute separately defined what the penalty for that crime was. The new criminal code groups all felonies into classes. The most important thing to note here is the "purposely and maliciously" language. The word "purposely" means intentionally, so it does not change from this version to the new one. However, "maliciously" will be removed when the new statute is adopted. You will also notice that the statute number will change. All the criminal statutes were renumbered when the new criminal code was adopted in 1977.


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Nebraska's 2nd degree murder statute after the 1977 change

§28-304 Murder in the second degree; penalty.
(1) A person commits murder in the second degree if he cause the death of a person intentionally, but without premeditation. (2) Murder in the second degree is a Class 1B felony.

Under Nebraska law a Class 1B felony is defined in §28-105 as carrying a maximum sentence of life imprisonment and a minimum sentence of twenty years imprisonment.

The element of "malice" is now gone from the statute. Although the Legislative Bill that created this change was passed in 1977 the Legislature made the date on which this new statute begins to be enforced, January 1, 1979.


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Nebraska's manslaughter statute before the 1977 change

§28-403 Manslaughter, defined; penalty.
Whoever shall unlawfully kill another without malice, either upon a sudden quarrel, or unintentionally, while the slayer is in the commission of some unlawful act, shall be deemed guilty of manslaughter; and upon conviction thereof shall be imprisoned in the Nebraska Penal and Correctional Complex not more than ten years nor less than one year.

Notice that the statute has two parts. Both are "without malice," but then it is either "upon a sudden quarrel" or "unintentionally, while the slayer is in the commission of some unlawful act."


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Nebraska's manslaughter statute after 1977 change

§28-305 Manslaughter; penalty.
(1) A person commits manslaughter if he kills another without malice, either upon a sudden quarrel, or causes the death of another unintentionally while in the commission of an unlawful act. (2) Manslaughter is a Class III felony.

Under Nebraska law a Class III felony is defined in §28-105 as carrying a maximum sentence of 20 years imprisonment or $25,000 fine or both and a minimum sentence of 1 year imprisonment.

Notice that the new manslaughter is essentially the same as the old one. It still has two parts, both of which are "without malice." Either "upon a sudden quarrel" or "Unintentionally while in the commission of an unlawful act." So the new manslaughter statute did not make any change to the crime of manslaughter.


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