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A predetermination to commit an act without legal justification or excuse. A malicious design to
injure. An intent, at the time of a killing, willfully to take the life of a human being, or an intent willfully to act in callous and wanton disregard of the consequences to human life; but malice aforethought does not necessarily imply any ill will, spite or hatred towards the individual killed.
n. 1) the conscious intent to cause death or great bodily harm to another person before a person commits the crime. Such malice is a required element to prove first degree murder. 2) a general evil and depraved state of mind in which the person is unconcerned for the lives of others. Thus, if a person uses a gun to hold up a bank and an innocent bystander is killed in a shoot-out with police, there is malice aforethought. (See: malice, murder, first degree murder)
malice aforethoughtsee HOMICIDE.
MALICE AFORETHOUGHT, pleadings. In an indictment for murder, these words,
which have a technical force, must be used in charging the offence; for
without them, and the artificial phrase murder, the indictment will be taken
to charge manslaughter only. Fost. 424; Yelv. 205; 1 Chit. Cr. Law, *242,
and the authorities and cases there cited.
2. Whenever malice aforethought is necessary to constitute the offence, these words must be used in charging the crime in the indictment. 2 Chit. Cr. Law, *787; 1 East, Pl. Or. 402. 2 Mason, R. 91.