Can a murder really be accidental?

| Jul 7, 2021 | Criminal Defense |

Most people understand that murder is wrong and that it occurs when someone intentionally harms another person intending to cause their death. Murder is a premeditated killing that is committed unlawfully.

By its definition, it’s a reality that a murder is intentional. However, killing someone isn’t necessarily murder by the legal definition. A person’s death may fall into many categories including unintentional homicides or murders of various degrees based on intent and the degree of premeditation that occurred.

Is there a difference between murder, manslaughter and homicide?

Yes, there is a difference between murder, manslaughter and homicide, and the differences have a significant impact on the potential penalties involved in a case.

Murder

A murder is intentional. With a first-degree murder, the killing is premeditated. With a second-degree murder, the murder doesn’t have to be planned.

Manslaughter

Manslaughter is another kind of unlawful killing. However, with manslaughter, there is no premeditation or malice towards the person who died. This might happen in the heat of the moment. For example, catching a spouse with a new lover may spur someone to attack someone and kill them accidentally.

Homicide

Homicide is a larger piece of terminology and more of an umbrella term. It applies to any case where someone has killed another person. Murder and manslaughter are both kinds of homicide. Killing in self-defense is also a kind of homicide.

What should you do if you’re accused of murder but the death was accidental?

If your case involves elements that show that a death took place in the heat of the moment, then a manslaughter charge is more likely. Voluntary manslaughter usually takes place suddenly without premeditation. Involuntary manslaughter, another form, may be a result of reckless actions. For example, if you drive while intoxicated and kill a pedestrian, then you could be accused of involuntary manslaughter.

No matter what kind of homicide charge you’re facing, it’s always worth putting together a strong defense. The reality is that these crimes are all similar, and the evidence and discussions about your case could lead to a charge that you don’t deserve. You do deserve an opportunity to defend yourself and protect your freedoms.

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