Homicide is the unlawful taking of a human life. As straightforward as the definition
and concept of homicide may be, it can actually be split into two distinct
subcategories: murder or manslaughter. For people who have been accused
of homicide, understanding the differences between these two charges can
make or break their chances in court.
How is Murdered Defined?
The legal definition of murder is easily understood. If a human life is
ended through malice, extreme recklessness, or due to thorough forethought,
it constitutes murder. For example, speeding down a suburban street at
100 miles per hour could be considered so reckless and show such a lack
of compassion for others that if you crash into and kill someone, you
would be charged with murder. In Tennessee, murder can be first-degree
How is Manslaughter Defined?
Manslaughter is a little more complex than murder, as it can be divided
once again into two subcategories: voluntary and involuntary. Voluntary
manslaughter is frequently referred to as a “crime of passion”
because it involves someone committing what they know to be a violent
act but one that they did not plan ahead of time, or did not have mental
capacity as it played out. A common example of a crime of passion is a
person returning home to find their spouse in bed with another; during
the ensuing fit of rage, they take the life of the lover, their spouse, or both.
Involuntary manslaughter – sometimes called criminally negligence
homicide in Tennessee statutes – is when a life is taken without
premeditation, maliciousness, or absurd recklessness. Due to the circumstances
surrounding some cases, involuntary manslaughter might not even be considered
a crime that bears charges at all. For example, driving down the road
at an acceptable speed, looking down at your radio for a second, and striking
an elderly pedestrian, resulting in their death, would be considered involuntary
vehicular manslaughter and you would probably never be arrested for any
crime; you could, however, be ordered to pay compensation to the surviving
family members of the victim but that is a civil penalty, not a criminal one.
Different Charges & Consequences
The conviction penalties associated with each form of homicide is different
from the next. Murder is the most heavily punished, often including decades
or life behind bars and thousands of dollars in fines paid to the state
and the victims. Voluntary manslaughter can be penalized with years in
jail with possible parole and high fines. Involuntary manslaughter, if
it is even considered a crime, may include minimum incarceration and fines.
Are you accused of murder, manslaughter, or any other degree of homicide?
Get Murfreesboro Criminal Defense Attorney Joshua T. Crain on your side.
As a former prosecutor who gained national recognition, he can help you
stay one step ahead of the opposition in your case.
Contact us today to get a