Murder in the First Degree
Murder in the first degree carries a mandatory life sentence. Therefore, to be charged with murder in the first degree is a very serious offense that requires serious work to defend against. There a number of ways one can be charged with this, such as causing a death with intent and premeditation. Another way is causing a death during the course of committing certain felonies ("felony murder").The statute here is Minn. Stat. 609.185. Defenses could include "I did not kill the individual" to "I did not mean to kill the individual" to "I did not premeditate the murder." Murder in the first degree, because it has a mandatory life sentence attached to it, requires a Grand Jury Indictment.
Murder in the Second Degree
Murder in the second degree is found in Minn. Stat. 609.19. An example of murder in the second degree could be causing a death with intent, but not premeditation. While there are not mandatory life imprisonment punishments here, the presumptive sentence for this with no prior criminal history is 306 months in prison (25 and a half years) if the death was intentional and 150 months if not intentional (12 and a half years). Therefore, it is still very serious.
Murder in the Third Degree
Murder in the third degree is the "depraved mind" murder. It does not require intent to kill. Another way that the State charges out third degree murder is where a drug dealer sells a drug that leads to the user's death. The presumptive sentences for this, without any prior history, are 150 months for a depraved mind murder and 86 months for a drug based murder.