Homicide refers to the killing of a human being. The definition of homicide can encompass a number of different crimes, including intentional killings and non-intentional killings. Murder is an intentional killing, while manslaughter is considered a non-intentional killing. If a person is accused of a homicide, particularly a culpable homicide, they will be charged with a violent felony. There are severe punishments for being found guilty of a homicide.
Murder and manslaughter are the two most common homicide charges. Serial killing, deaths from Shaken Baby Syndrome, and assisted suicide are also part of the homicide umbrella.
The distinctions between homicide charges vary depending on the state you’re in. In general, there are two different degrees for both murder and manslaughter charges.
First-degree murder refers to the intentional, premeditated, deliberate, and malicious killing of another individual. If a murder is committed during a felony that is inherently dangerous, it’s also considered first-degree murder even if it was not premeditated.
Second-degree murder refers to killing a person with the intention of causing death, but without deliberation or premeditation. Sometimes, second-degree murder charges will be leveled against people when they accidentally kill someone other than their intended target. Second-degree murder tends to be a catchall term for crimes that cannot be considered manslaughter, but that also cannot prove the existence of premeditation.
Voluntary manslaughter is the most serious degree of manslaughter. This charge covers crimes in which a killing was committed as a result of provocation or passion. “Passion” doesn’t necessarily mean anger, but can refer to any emotion that suspends the rational judgment of a person. To fit the definition of “provoked,” a defendant must generally have been involved in a physical confrontation in which they responded by committing murder. The provocation must be enough for a person with sound mind to respond similarly. Provocation also covers imperfect self-defense, in which a defendant uses more force than needed to defend themselves.
Involuntary manslaughter refers to the killing of an individual through unintentional actions that include negligent or reckless conduct. In some states, vehicular manslaughter is a significant part of involuntary manslaughter crimes. There are other states that have defined vehicular manslaughter as its own standalone type of manslaughter, rather than defining it as a type of involuntary manslaughter.
No matter what degree of homicide you’re charged with, the potential consequences of a conviction are serious. You might face any of the following:
The exact consequences you’ll face depend on a variety of factors:
If you’ve been charged with any type of homicide, you will probably face additional charges depending on your circumstances. You’ll find out the exact charges you face at your arraignment. It’s important to get in contact with a defense attorney immediately after your arrest. Make sure they’re present at all law enforcement questioning and the arraignment.
Your attorney will review the facts of the case and make a plan going forward. They will provide the best criminal defense that you can have, and they’ll explain your options. You can work together to come to a decision regarding the way you want the case to proceed. Because murder is such a serious charge, it’s vitally important that you invest in a lawyer who has experience negotiating homicide cases
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