You’ve probably watched crime shows and heard the verdict of manslaughter or murder handed to the offender. Since the terms are so similar, most people often believe they’re the same. However, there is quite a difference between murder and manslaughter.
So, how do the two contrast? Well, we’ll answer that question and more in the information below. Just keep reading.
What Is Murder?
Murder is the act of killing a person with “malice of forethought”. There are different types of malice which include express malice and implied malice. Express malice is when an individual intentionally kills a person or a group of people.
On the other hand, implied malice is with an individual intentionally commits an act that they knew could harm human life, and it results in a fatality. In either situation, the murder was committed with a complete disregard for another human being.
Anytime a crime involves implied or express malice, it’s classified as murder. In addition to that, murder is categorized into first-degree and second-degree murder.
Murder in the first degree is when a person willfully and deliberately killed another person with premeditation. That means that they willingly decided to murder someone before it happened, and it was pre-planned.
But second-degree murder is when a criminal intentionally kills another person, but it was not premeditated or planned beforehand. These types of murders are usually crimes of passion or killing someone due to negligent behavior.
What Is Manslaughter?
Manslaughter is similar to murder in the fact that it’s the unlawful killing of another individual or a group of individuals. However, there is no malice involved.
Also, manslaughter could either be voluntary or involuntary. Voluntary manslaughter is when a murder is committed in the heat of passion or in the midst of defense. That defense could either be for yourself or others.
On the contrary, involuntary manslaughter happens when the killing is unintentional and resulted due to negligent behavior. This usually occurs in cases like drunk driving that kills another person.
Also, heat of passion often leads the manslaughter. If a spouse comes in and sees his wife with another man and kills them, that’s heat of passion.
When there is an intense emotion provoked by certain behavior, it’s considered involuntary. The reason being is because due to the circumstances, the person who commits the crime is acting in a way that they wouldn’t normally act. But they commit the crime due to extreme emotion.
In this case, the jury is responsible for deciding if the person was provoked to commit murder or if their intense emotion led them to the crime.
Basically, the difference between murder and manslaughter is the circumstances surrounding the crime. Murder is intentional and manslaughter is unintentional.
Murder Vs Manslaughter: Criminal Punishment
Every state is different when it comes to manslaughter and murder. Each region gives out different prison sentences and there are other factors that are involved in the length of the sentence. For the most part, manslaughter cases generally have less jail time than murder cases.
Actually, some involuntary manslaughter cases result in no prison time. Since voluntary manslaughter is unintentional, it’s not easy to sentence someone to jail for a crime they didn’t mean to commit. This is especially true if they weren’t negligent with their behavior like with drunk driving.
In cases of involuntary manslaughter, it’s usually categorized as poor judgment instead of implicit wrongdoing. If the individual in the case has no prior criminal record, they may not get jail time or serve a probationary sentence.
But when it comes to voluntary manslaughter, the average time that a person may get is approximately 10 years.
Of course, first-degree murder is judged harshly. When a person willingly kills another person and it’s pre-planned, that’s usually a life sentence. Again, every state is different.
Therefore, the sentence could be as low as 25 years to the maximum of life in prison. In some states, there’s even the death penalty.
However, second-degree murder sentences are a lot lighter. For example, in cases of crimes of passion, a person may receive 15 years, serve five of those years, and serve the remainder on probation.
Let’s say a woman has an abusive husband and she kills him. The jury would be a lot more sympathetic and lenient because of her prior circumstances with him. It also could be looked at as self-defense because her husband could’ve eventually killed her as well.
Hiring a Lawyer
If you are ever accused of murder or manslaughter, your best bet is to call a criminal law attorney. Hiring a lawyer will give you the defense you need to fight against the charges.
Obviously, murder is one of the most serious crimes that you could ever be accused of. So the more help you get, the better.
There’s a big difference between murder and manslaughter. So, you want a lawyer on your side to present your case in a way that gets you a lesser sentence or completely exonerates you of the crime.
Difference Between Murder and Manslaughter: Crimes Explained
As the information above explains, there’s a big difference between murder and manslaughter. Obviously, most people get confused between murder vs manslaughter because both crimes involve death.
Hopefully, this information helps you understand the contrasts and explains why both crimes are treated differently in the justice system.
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