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Premeditation is when an individual contemplates, for any length of time, the undertaking of an activity and then subsequently takes the action.

In Roby v. State, the Supreme Court of Mississippi stated that premeditation is an element of murder. In the context of murder, premeditation connotes a prior design to kill for some appreciable time, which allows an individual the opportunity for reflection and consideration before committing the act.

Similarly, in People v. Solomon, premeditation is defined as “thought over in advance.” Premeditation and deliberation can occur in a brief interval. The test is reflection, not time, as one thought can follow another, and judgment can be formed quickly.

For example, in State v. Guthrie, the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia defined the element of premeditation for murder in the first degree as any interval of time between the forming of the intent to kill and the execution of that intent, as long as the time is of enough duration for defendants to be fully conscious and aware of what they intended. 

[Last updated in December of 2023 by the Wex Definitions Team]