What is the Difference Between Murder and Manslaughter?

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You may think that the crimes of murder and manslaughter are essentially the same. They sound similar and both result in a person’s death so their definitions probably overlap, right? This is a common misconception. Though both murder and manslaughter do define the killing of a person, the circumstances of the killing are drastically different for each crime. If you need legal representation for your murder or manslaughter case, acquire the services of a Mercer County violent crime lawyer.

How Do You Define Murder?

Murder is one of the most serious crimes that a person can commit. It is defined as the unlawful killing of a person by another. You can be convicted of murder if the killing was premeditated or with malicious forethought.

How Do You Define Manslaughter?

Manslaughter is defined as the unlawful and unintentional killing of a person usually through negligent actions. You can be convicted of manslaughter if there was no intent to kill but something that you did resulted in death.

What Are the Key Differences Between Murder and Manslaughter?

The one main difference between murder and manslaughter is the person’s intent. If you committed murder you wanted to kill the person and took actions with the intent of doing so. It can also be considered murder if you were committing another crime and ended up killing someone while it was happening or while attempting to flee the scene. In this scenario, you may not have planned to kill the person but it was a consequence of your other crime. This is what is referred to as felony murder.

Manslaughter can be divided into two categories, voluntary and involuntary. Voluntary manslaughter occurs during the heat of the moment and is also known as a crime of passion. Voluntary manslaughter typically requires that the person was provoked in some way and that they did not have the opportunity to cool off from the situation before the killing took place. Sometimes people instinctively make choices based on emotion before they can rationally think it through. An example could be if a person finds their spouse having an affair with someone else and is overcome with fury. In the heat of the moment they kill their spouse but afterwards realize what they have done.

Involuntary manslaughter is an unintentional killing that typically occurs due to criminal negligence or recklessness. Involuntary manslaughter differs from murder or voluntary manslaughter because the person committing the crime usually truly did not want the victim to die, and in a lot of scenarios did not even know the victim. An example could be if a person is texting while driving and therefore not paying attention to the road. If a pedestrian begins to cross the street but the driver is looking at their phone and hits and kills them, it is involuntary manslaughter. The driver’s criminally reckless act of texting while driving resulted in the death of an innocent pedestrian.

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