Depraved heart murder

Depraved heart murder is an American legal term for an action that demonstrates a "callous disregard for human life" and results in death. In most states, depraved heart killings constitute either second-degree murder or first-degree manslaughter.

Examples might be:

  • Piloting a motorboat at high speed through a crowded swimming area on a lake.
  • Shooting a gun randomly at a bus with passengers aboard.
  • Speeding in a car to the right of a school bus that is unloading children.
  • Shooting a gun into a thicket, not knowing or caring if anyone is in the thicket.

If no death results, such acts would generally be defined as reckless endangerment and possibly other crimes, such as assault.

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