The state of Georgia handles murder crimes slightly differently than other states. In most states, the law separates murder into different degrees. First-degree murder, for example, is the most severe and typically requires intention and deliberate action.
In Georgia, the crime of killing someone is either malice or felony murder. These two distinct categories are the only options for charges, and neither one requires any intent.
Malice murder occurs when someone kills another person. There must be a deliberate action to take a life. But there does not need to be an intent or plan to murder. This is generally most types of murder that occur. Felony murder situations are the only exception.
Felony murder occurs when a felony occurs, and someone dies during the time of commission. For example, if two people rob a bank and one of them dies in the process, the surviving person could face felony murder charges. He or she had nothing to do with the death and did not kill the other person, but because he or she was involved in committing a felony crime at the time, it falls under this category of murder. The only qualifier here is being present when the felony crime occurred that led to the death. To get a felony murder conviction, prosecutors must convict the person of the felony crime that occurred at the time of the death first.
Both types of murder can carry life sentences or the death penalty. The prosecution must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt regardless of the charge.