If you are facing accusations of killing another person, you need to be aware of exactly what those charges entail. Homicides and murders are not necessarily the same thing, even if you may have heard those terms used interchangeably in the past.
Homicides and murders may overlap in some cases. Here’s what you should know about the terminology and how it could apply to your case.
What is murder?
Murder is an illegal act including premeditated killings of others as well as those that were not premeditated. Murder may be classified to different degrees, with a first-degree murder being the most severe.
Usually, states set up the classifications to make a first-degree murder an intentional killing, second-degree an intentional killing without premeditation and third-degree murder as an unintentional killing caused by a person’s dangerous actions. However, keep in mind that these definitions may vary and have exceptions, so you should discuss the specifics of your case with someone familiar with local, state or federal law.
What is homicide?
Murders may be called homicides in some cases because all homicides involve the killing of one person by another person. Not all homicides are murders, but all murders are homicides. With some kinds of homicides, there is no intention to cause harm to another person. For example, a car crash leading to a person’s death may result in involuntary manslaughter/involuntary homicide charges, which reflect that the driver who caused another person’s death did not intend to do so.
Why does it matter which kinds of charges you face?
It matters which type of charge you face because you will have different potential sentencing guidelines to be aware of. For example, with a first-degree murder, you’ll likely face time in prison, potentially life in prison, if you’re convicted. With an involuntary manslaughter or involuntary homicide charge, you’re much less likely to face as many fines or as much time behind bars.
The degree at which you’re charged as well as the charge you face matters. You need to take action to work to reduce the charges and to build a strong defense against them, so you can protect yourself and your freedoms.