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Murder vs. Manslaughter: What's the Difference?


Homicide is considered the legal term for any killing of a human being by another human being; however, the reason for the killing depends on several factors that could affect the punishment for such a crime. Homicide can be broken down into 2 main categories—murder and manslaughter.


In most states, murder is defined as the unlawful killing of an individual with malice aforethought. Usually, if someone is convicted of murder, he or she planned to take someone else’s life without justification or excuse. Murder can be further broken down into 1st- and 2nd-degree murder. If the charge is murder in the 1st degree, the killing is deliberate and premeditated. A 2nd-degree murder was changed to a 1st-degree reckless homicide charge in the 1980s; it includes behavior that caused the death of a person through recklessness but without forethought.


Manslaughter, on the other hand, is unlawful killing that doesn’t involve malice aforethought. It can also be separated into 2 more categories—voluntary and involuntary manslaughter. Typically, a person who commits voluntary manslaughter kills after being strongly provoked or when in the heat of passion aroused by provocation. In a classic example, a man who finds out his wife has been cheating on him kills his wife’s lover in a fit of rage; this man would likely be considered guilty of voluntary manslaughter. Involuntary manslaughter, on the other hand, refers to an unintentional homicide from criminally negligent or reckless behavior. For example, if someone is driving a car and accidentally runs over a person, the driver would be guilty of involuntary manslaughter if the victim dies.

If you’re facing either of these charges, it’s essential to enlist the help of an experienced Milwaukee violent crimes attorney. The Law Offices of Christopher J. Cherella has more than 20 years of legal experience to offer your case. Let us see what we can do to defend your rights and freedom.

Contact us at (414) 882-8382 or fill out our online form to schedule a free case review today.

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