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Murder, Manslaughter, and Homicide Explained

If you are suspected to have caused the death of another person, or if you have been charged with any form of murder or manslaughter, you may be wondering how law enforcement officers categorize the various crimes having to do with the death of another person. This simple guide demonstrates the differences between these terms.

Homicide – This is the simple term used to describe the killing of another person. It is even used to refer to times when a person is killed but it is not illegal. One common example of justifiable homicide is self-defense. In the US, homicide is not actually used as the name of a specific offense.

Murder – Murder involves killing another person, usually in a purposeful way. Subcategories of this offense include:

First degree murder – Usually a murder is considered first degree if it is exceptionally cruel or was planned ahead of time by the alleged offender

Second degree murder – Usually this does not involve premeditation, but the alleged offender kills with intent and malice

Felony murder – This type of murder may not be intentional at all, but the law provides that if someone kills another person while committing a felony, they can be charged with murder

Manslaughter – In general, manslaughter is considered another situation in which someone took the life of another illegally. Types of manslaughter include:

Voluntary manslaughter – This charge is not very different from a second degree murder charge, in that it means that a person knowingly kills, but in this case it was caused by an emotional reaction in the heat of the moment, not pure malice or disregard for human life

Involuntary manslaughter – In involuntary manslaughter cases, there was no intent to kill, but the person responsible for the death acted negligently in some way

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No matter what charge you are facing, or if the police are simply at the stage of questioning you, you deserve to have a vigilant and highly capable San Jose criminal defense lawyer on your side. Contact the Law Office of Daniel Jensen, P.C., by calling (408) 296-4100 today to get started on your defense.

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