24/7 call for a free consultation 212-300-5196




When you’re facing a federal issue, you need an attorney whose going to be available 24/7 to help you get the results and outcome you need. The value of working with the Spodek Law Group is that we treat each and every client like a member of our family.

Murder, Homicide, Attempted Murder, Manslaughter

Understanding Murder, Homicide, Attempted Murder, and Manslaughter

Being charged with murder, homicide, attempted murder, or manslaughter is terrifying. These crimes involve the loss of human life, so the stakes are incredibly high for anyone facing accusations. As lawyers, it’s our duty to provide clear information to help people understand the complex legal issues surrounding these charges.

Let’s start with some definitions. Homicide is when one human being causes the death of another. Not all homicides are criminal – for example, killings in self-defense are legally justified. Murder and manslaughter are types of criminal homicide.

Murder is intentionally causing the death of another person. It is one of the most severe charges in the American legal system. Murder has two degrees:

  • First degree murder is premeditated. The killer intentionally made a plan to cause the victim’s death before acting.
  • Second degree murder is intentional killing without premeditation. There was intent to kill, but no advance planning.

Manslaughter is criminally causing another person’s death in a reckless, negligent, or accidental manner. There are two types of manslaughter:

  • Voluntary manslaughter happens when the defendant intended to kill the victim, but the killing occurred in the “heat of passion” under provocation. For example, catching a spouse in the act of cheating.
  • Involuntary manslaughter occurs when a death is caused by a reckless or negligent act, without intent to kill. For example, accidentally killing someone while driving drunk.

Attempted murder is unsuccessfully trying to intentionally kill someone. To prove attempted murder, the prosecution must show the defendant intended to commit murder and took substantial steps towards that goal.

Now let’s dive deeper into these complex issues. It’s important for anyone facing criminal homicide charges to understand the laws, defenses, and potential penalties they are up against.

Investigating Criminal Homicide Cases

Police and prosecutors conduct extensive investigations when building criminal homicide cases. Their goal is to prove all the legal elements required to convict the defendant of murder or manslaughter.

For any homicide, the prosecution must establish the identity of the perpetrator and prove their actions caused the victim’s death. Forensic evidence like blood spatter analysis and autopsy results are used to demonstrate the cause of death.

In murder cases, proving intent is critical. Investigators dig into the relationship between the accused and the victim, looking for evidence of planning, threats, or past conflict. Statements made before, during, or after the killing can reveal malicious intent.

Manslaughter charges don’t require evidence of intent to kill. But prosecutors still aim to prove reckless, negligent, or accidental conduct leading to death. For example, evidence of intoxication is used to build involuntary manslaughter cases after fatal DUI crashes.

Murder vs. Manslaughter: The Critical Role of Intent

The biggest factor distinguishing murder from manslaughter charges is intent.

Murder requires evidence that the defendant intended to kill the victim. First degree murder involves calculated planning and premeditation. Second degree murder happens when someone purposefully kills without advance preparation – for example, intentionally shooting someone during an argument.

Manslaughter does not require proof of intent to kill. Voluntary manslaughter occurs when the defendant intended to kill the victim, but the decision was made rashly during a heated, emotionally-charged dispute. Involuntary manslaughter happens when someone is killed due to the accused’s negligence or recklessness, without any actual intent to cause death.

The complex job of proving or disproving intent often determines whether someone is convicted of murder vs. manslaughter. Defense lawyers examine the evidence to argue the killing was not premeditated, or that the accused acted recklessly but never intended to kill anyone. Prosecutors dig into the defendant’s actions and statements to prove deliberate, malicious intent to commit murder.

Potential Defenses Against Criminal Homicide Charges

When facing allegations of murder, manslaughter, or attempted murder, having an experienced criminal defense lawyer on your side is critical. A skilled attorney will thoroughly examine the evidence and identify potential defenses to fight the charges.

Here are some common legal defenses used in homicide cases:

  • Self-Defense – Arguing the killing was legally justified to protect yourself or others from imminent death or serious harm. The defense must prove a reasonable fear of danger and use of appropriate force.
  • Accident – Asserting the death was the result of an unintentional accident, not reckless or negligent conduct by the defendant.
  • Insanity – Presenting evidence of mental disease or defect that made the defendant unable to understand their actions or know right from wrong.
  • Intoxication – Demonstrating the accused was involuntarily intoxicated against their will, which led to reckless actions.
  • Mistaken Identity – Challenging the prosecution’s identification of the defendant as the killer. Eyewitness misidentification is a common cause of wrongful convictions.
  • False Confession – Proving an admission of guilt was coerced by police and is unreliable. Young, mentally impaired, or easily pressured suspects may falsely confess under duress.

In addition to raising legal defenses, an experienced lawyer will scrutinize every element of the prosecution’s case. They can argue the evidence fails to prove intent, causation of death, or other required elements beyond a reasonable doubt. This aggressive advocacy provides the strongest chance of acquittal or reduced charges.

The Severe Penalties Facing Those Convicted of Murder or Manslaughter

Given the loss of human life involved, penalties for murder and manslaughter convictions are understandably harsh:

  • First degree murder typically brings lengthy prison sentences up to life without parole, or even the death penalty in some states.
  • Second degree murder also carries potential life imprisonment in most jurisdictions. Sentences of 10-30 years are common.
  • Voluntary manslaughter results in prison terms around 3-15 years on average.
  • Involuntary manslaughter sentences range from 1-15 years, sometimes even just probation.
  • Attempted murder usually brings 3-20 years imprisonment. Sentences increase if the victim suffered severe injuries.

In addition to imprisonment, those convicted often face heavy fines, mandatory counseling, community service, and lifetime loss of gun ownership rights.

Any homicide conviction also brings tremendous personal consequences. The accused may lose their career, reputation, and relationships with loved ones. And nothing can undo the tragedy of a lost human life.

Seeking Justice with Compassion

As criminal defense lawyers, we have great empathy for all involved in these difficult cases. We firmly believe every defendant deserves fair, just, and compassionate treatment under the law.

If you or a loved one faces allegations of murder, attempted murder, or manslaughter, please reach out immediately. An experienced attorney can advise you of your rights and carefully examine the prosecution’s evidence to build the strongest possible defense. Though stakes are high, hope remains. Justice is still possible.

Schedule Your Consultation Now