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Difference Between Murder and Homicide – Is There One?

March 21, 2024 Uncategorized

Difference Between Murder and Homicide – Is There One?

Murder and homicide are often used interchangeably in news reports and television crime dramas. But while related, these two legal terms have distinct meanings. Understanding the differences is important for criminal cases and penalties.

Defining Homicide

Homicide is a broad term referring to one human being causing the death of another. It encompasses many types of killing, including[1]:

  • Murder and manslaughter – unlawful criminal homicide
  • Justifiable homicide – lawful killings by police or civilians in self-defense
  • Excusable homicide – accidental killings with no criminal liability

Homicide itself simply means a person was killed by another person. It is not inherently a crime or punishable offense[2]. Whether a homicide constitutes murder, manslaughter, or a justifiable killing depends on specific circumstances and state laws.

Murder vs. Manslaughter

In criminal law, murder and manslaughter fall under the category of unlawful homicides. They differ primarily based on[3]:

  • Intent – Murder involves intent to kill, while manslaughter does not.
  • Premeditation – First-degree murder involves premeditation, while manslaughter does not.
  • Provocation – Voluntary manslaughter involves provocation, murder does not.

Beyond those factors, state statutes further define degrees of murder and manslaughter charges[4]. But in general:

  • Murder requires deliberate intent to kill without legal justification.
  • Manslaughter involves unintentional or provoked killings.

First vs. Second Degree Murder

Many states classify murder into two degrees[5]:

  • First-degree murder – Premeditated, intentional killings.
  • Second-degree murder – Non-premeditated, intentional killings.

First-degree murder entails planning and deliberation, while second-degree murder is unplanned but still intentional. This affects sentencing, with first-degree murder carrying longer prison terms or potential death penalty.

Christine Twomey
Christine Twomey
2024-03-21
Just had my Divorce case settled 2 months ago after having a horrible experience with another firm. I couldn’t be happier with Claire Banks and Elizabeth Garvey with their outstanding professionalism in doing so with Spodek Law Group. Any time I needed questions answered they were always prompt in doing so with all my uncertainties after 30 yrs of marriage.I feel from the bottom of my heart you will NOT be disappointed with either one. Thanks a million.
Brendan huisman
Brendan huisman
2024-03-18
Alex Zhik contacted me almost immediately when I reached out to Spodek for a consultation and was able to effectively communicate the path forward/consequences of my legal issue. I immediately agreed to hire Alex for his services and did not regret my choice. He was able to cover my case in court (with 1 day notice) and not only was he able to push my case down, he carefully negotiated a dismissal of the charge altogether. I highly recommend Spodek, and more specifically, Alex Zhik for all of your legal issues. Thanks guys!
Guerline Menard
Guerline Menard
2024-03-18
Thanks again Spodek law firm, particularly Esq Claire Banks who stood right there with us up to the finish line. Attached photos taken right outside of the court building and the smile on our faces represented victory, a breath of fresh air and satisfaction. We are very happy that this is over and we can move on with our lives. Thanks Spodek law 🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼🙌🏼❤️
Keisha Parris
Keisha Parris
2024-03-15
Believe every single review here about Alex Z!! From our initial consultation, it was evident that Alex possessed a profound understanding of criminal law and a fierce dedication to his clients rights. Throughout the entirety of my case, Alex exhibited unparalleled professionalism and unwavering commitment. What sets Alex apart is not only his legal expertise but also his genuine compassion for his clients. He took the time to thoroughly explain my case, alleviating any concerns I had along the way. His exact words were “I’m not worried about it”. His unwavering support and guidance were invaluable throughout the entire process. I am immensely grateful for Alex's exceptional legal representation and wholeheartedly recommend his services to anyone in need of a skilled criminal defense attorney. Alex Z is not just a lawyer; he is a beacon of hope for those navigating the complexities of the legal system. If you find yourself in need of a dedicated and competent legal advocate, look no further than Alex Z.
Taïko Beauty
Taïko Beauty
2024-03-15
I don’t know where to start, I can write a novel about this firm, but one thing I will say is that having my best interest was their main priority since the beginning of my case which was back in Winter 2019. Miss Claire Banks, one of the best Attorneys in the firm represented me very well and was very professional, respectful, and truthful. Not once did she leave me in the dark, in fact she presented all options and routes that could possibly be considered for my case and she reinsured me that no matter what I decided to do, her and the team will have my back and that’s exactly what happened. Not only will I be liberated from this case, also, I will enjoy my freedom and continue to be a mother to my first born son and will have no restrictions with accomplishing my goals in life. Now that’s what I call victory!! I thank the Lord, My mother, Claire, and the Spodek team for standing by me and fighting with me. Words can’t describe how grateful I am to have the opportunity to work with this team. I’m very satisfied, very pleased with their performance, their hard work, and their diligence. Thank you team!
Anthony Williams
Anthony Williams
2024-03-12
Hey, how you guys doing? Good afternoon my name is Anthony Williams I just want to give a great shout out to the team of. Spodek law group. It is such a honor to use them and to use their assistance through this whole case from start to finish. They did everything that they said they was gonna do and if it ever comes down to it, if I ever have to use them again, hands-down they will be the first law office at the top of my list, thank you guys so much. It was a pleasure having you guys by my side so if you guys ever need them, do not hesitate to pick up the phone and give them a call.
Loveth Okpedo
Loveth Okpedo
2024-03-12
Very professional, very transparent, over all a great experience
Bee L
Bee L
2024-02-28
Amazing experience with Spodek! Very professional lawyers who take your case seriously. They treated me with respect, were always available, and answered any and all questions. They were able to help me very successfully and removed a huge stress. Highly recommend.
divesh patel
divesh patel
2024-02-24
I can't recommend Alex Zhik and Spodek Law Firm highly enough for their exceptional legal representation and personal mentorship. From the moment I engaged their services in October 2022, Alex took the time to understand my case thoroughly and provided guidance every step of the way. Alex's dedication to my case went above and beyond my expectations. His expertise, attention to detail, and commitment to achieving the best possible outcome were evident throughout the entire process. He took the time to mentor me, ensuring I understood the legal complexities involved to make informed decisions. Alex is the kind of guy you would want to have a beer with and has made a meaningful impact on me. I also want to acknowledge Todd Spodek, the leader of the firm, who played a crucial role in my case. His leadership and support bolstered the efforts of Alex, and his involvement highlighted the firm's commitment to excellence. Thanks to Alex Zhik and Todd Spodek, I achieved the outcome I desired, and I am incredibly grateful for their professionalism, expertise, and genuine care. If you're in need of legal representation, look no further than this outstanding team.

Voluntary vs. Involuntary Manslaughter

Manslaughter is also divided into categories[6]:

  • Voluntary manslaughter – Heat-of-passion killings or assisted suicide.
  • Involuntary manslaughter – Accidental killings through negligence or recklessness.

Voluntary manslaughter involves intent to kill under extenuating circumstances. Involuntary manslaughter lacks intent to kill but involves reckless disregard for human life.

Sentencing Differences

Because murder and manslaughter involve very different levels of culpability, the criminal penalties differ significantly:

  • First-degree murder carries lengthy prison sentences or the death penalty.
  • Second-degree murder also brings substantial incarceration of 10+ years.
  • Voluntary manslaughter results in 1-10 year prison sentences typically.
  • Involuntary manslaughter brings less than 5 years on average.

Within those ranges, sentencing depends on aggravating and mitigating factors. But in general, murder brings severe sentences while manslaughter is punished more leniently.

Self-Defense and Justifiable Homicide

State laws recognize certain homicides as legally justified, including:

  • Killings by police officers in the line of duty
  • Civilians defending themselves or others from serious harm
  • Preventing the commission of a dangerous felony

These are considered justifiable homicides, not murder or manslaughter. However, the killer must prove the circumstances warranting use of lethal force based on a “reasonable person” standard.

Accidental Homicide and Excusable Deaths

When a death is entirely accidental and does not involve criminal negligence, it is termed an excusable homicide. For example:

  • Hunting accident with a stray bullet
  • Errant shot from someone lawfully defending themselves
  • Death from friendly fire in war

These also do not lead to murder or manslaughter charges since there is no criminal intent or recklessness.

Important Takeaways

In summary, the key distinctions between homicide, murder and manslaughter include:

  • Homicide is any killing of one person by another, criminal or non-criminal.
  • Murder is an unlawful, intentional homicide with malice aforethought.
  • Manslaughter is an unlawful, unintentional or provoked homicide.
  • Justifiable homicides by police or civilians in defense are lawful.
  • Excusable accidental killings lack criminal liability.

Understanding these nuances is critically important for criminal charges and sentencing when one person kills another. Experienced criminal defense attorneys can provide guidance on state laws and trial strategy in homicide cases.

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Todd Spodek

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RALPH P. FRANCHO, JR

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JEREMY FEIGENBAUM

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ELIZABETH GARVEY

Associate

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CLAIRE BANKS

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RAJESH BARUA

Of-Counsel

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CHAD LEWIN

Of-Counsel

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