Did you know that you can be charged with a variety of different crimes
after the death of another person? Although we most often think of homicide
as the criminal charge associated with this type of violent crime, other
options also exist. In addition to the traditional murder charge, legal
homicide and manslaughter exist as charges that may be brought by Baltimore-area
prosecutors. Knowing the different definitions of murder and homicide
may help you mount a more effective criminal defense against the charges
you are facing.
First, let us discuss murder. This is the most serious type of criminal
homicide. First-degree murder is generally categorized as intentional
and premeditated. What do we mean by premeditated? In these cases, the
defendant is accused of making a plan to kill the person; even a short-term
plan may suffice. Lesser charges are generally brought for those who are
thought to have committed the crime “in the heat of passion”
and without prior planning.
With that in mind, would you believe that there is actually a classification
for “legal homicide”? Justified homicide provisions include
rules for killing in self-defense or in the defense of another person.
In some instances, justified homicide may be the appropriate criminal
defense for someone who is accused of murder.
Finally, manslaughter consists of an illegal killing that does not warrant
the more severe murder charge. Involuntary manslaughter occurs when someone
did not intentionally kill the victim, but instead was criminally reckless
or negligent. For example, involuntary manslaughter may occur when an
intoxicated driver causes a fatal accident. Voluntary manslaughter rules
differ by state, with some characterizing those “heat of passion”
crimes as murder.
Ultimately, defendants who are facing homicide charges of any type need
the assistance of an experienced defense attorney. These professionals
can provide advice pertaining to homicide, manslaughter and self-defense
situations. The penalties for manslaughter and murder are always serious,
and they may have a massive impact on your personal and professional future.