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How Are Murder and Manslaughter Different?

Though both murder and manslaughter involve the tragic loss of life, the two crimes are actually very different. They are both different types of homicide, but the circumstances of each crime and how they were carried out will determine which charge you are persecuted with. Contact a New City violent crimes lawyer for legal advice and representation during your murder or manslaughter case.

What is the Definition of Murder and Manslaughter?

Murder is the unlawful killing of another human being. To be convicted of murder it has to be proven that not only did you commit the murder but it was premeditated or with forethought and malice.

Manslaughter is the accidental killing of another human being. Manslaughter is unintentional but can be an unfortunate result of a variety of situations.

What is the Main Difference Between the Two?

The biggest difference between murder and manslaughter comes in the form of the person committing the crime’s intention. Did they intend and want to end the person’s life? Was it premeditated? If so, they can be convicted of murder. Murder convictions require it to be proven that there was malicious intent to end the victim’s life.

If the answer to those previous questions is no, however, they may have committed manslaughter instead. Manslaughter charges can be brought against a person who killed someone without intent to do so. This is usually through a fatal accident or criminal negligence. There are two types of manslaughter, voluntary and involuntary.

Another big difference between the two is the punishments that each crime is accompanied by. Because murder is such a severe crime and the murderer did so with malicious intention, the punishments are much more severe. With either crime, you are subject to extensive fines and jail time, but murder will carry the potential of a life prison sentence.

How Do Voluntary and Involuntary Manslaughter Differ?

Many people believe that voluntary manslaughter and murder are the same crime because the word “voluntary” makes it seem like you wanted to kill the person. However, this is not the case. Voluntary manslaughter does refer to a person physically choosing to kill, but that choice was subconscious. It happens in the heat of the moment and your body reacts to a provocation before your brain can catch up. You may have heard a killing be referred to as a crime of passion. If someone is provoked by a situation that causes a sudden flood of anger, jealousy, or any other emotion and they do not get a chance to calm down or cool off they could act without thinking.

Involuntary manslaughter is killing with truly no intention to do so. Someone who commits involuntary manslaughter usually does not even know their victim and depending on the situation may never come into direct contact with them, for example, if it was a car accident that resulted in their death. Commonly, this type of manslaughter is caused by the negligence or reckless actions of the person who killed. One careless mistake can result in serious loss and a criminal conviction.

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