A person commits the offense of murder when he or she intentionally or knowingly causes the death of an individual or when he or she intends to cause serious bodily injury to an individual and commits an act that causes the death of the individual.
The offense of murder requires a specific intent or knowledge, that is, intentionally or knowingly causing the death of an individual or intending to cause serious bodily injury to the individual. An "individual" for purposes of the offense of murder includes an unborn child. Intentionally or knowingly causing the death of a pregnant woman results in two offenses of murder, that is, the murder of the pregnant woman and the murder of her unborn child.
An indictment for murder must allege that a killing was intentional or knowing. A killing of an individual is "intentional" when a person consciously desires to cause the death of the individual. A killing of an individual is "knowing" when the person knows that death is reasonably certain to result. In order to convict a defendant of murder, the prosecution must prove that the defendant intentionally or knowing engaged in an act that caused the death of an individual and intended or knew that death would result from that act. The focus is on the defendant's intent to achieve the result.
Although a presumption of an intent to kill does not arise merely because a defendant uses a deadly weapon, the intent to kill may be inferred by the use of the deadly weapon. If the defendant uses the deadly weapon in a manner whereby death or serious bodily injury is reasonably certain to result, there is an inference of an intent to kill.
An indictment for murder should allege the name of a victim, that the defendant caused the death of the victim, and the means by which the defendant caused the death of the victim. When a weapon is used by the defendant, the indictment should describe the weapon. A general description of the weapon is sufficient. However, if the indictment alleges that the defendant used a deadly weapon, the prosecution must prove that the weapon was a deadly weapon.
An indictment for murder is never barred by a statute of limitations.
The doctrine of transferred intent applies to prosecutions for the offense of murder. This doctrine means that if a defendant shoots a person while intending to kill another person, the defendant's intent to kill the other person is transferred to the person whom the defendant killed. In other words, the defendant may be convicted of the murder of the person even though he or she intended to kill the other person.
The offense of murder is punished as felony of the first degree, that is, the most serious felony.