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Manslaughter Vs Murders – What Is The Difference Between These Two?

manslaughter vs murders

Have you or your loved one been arrested in connection with the death of another person? Top on the list is learning the difference between manslaughter vs. murders. It will give you great insights on how to handle the case that is awaiting you. 

You can either be charged with manslaughter, murder or homicide. Even though these terms seem to be confusing, they refer to various types of crimes. This article will primarily look at manslaughter vs. murders. However, it is good to start by understanding the meaning of homicide.


Homicide refers to the act of one person killing a fellow human being. It is a broad term that includes both illegal and legal killings. Knowing to compare and contrast homicide vs manslaughter will help you understand this topic better. 

For instance, a soldier can kill a fellow soldier on the battlefield. Such an occurrence does not amount to a crime. There are so many situations in which it is not a crime to kill another person. The difference between legal and illegal killings is the difference between manslaughter vs. murders.  



Murder is a homicide which is the illegal killing of another person. It typically refers to the killing of another human being after a malicious afterthought. 

Malice is typically the desire, intention, and knowledge to do evil. Malice’s afterthought comes in when a person kills another person without intending to do so. You can be charged with first-degree, second-degree, or capital murder. 

First Degree Murder:

The penalty of this criminal offense can go up to 25 years of life imprisonment. Capital murder is an example of first-degree murder. The crime can be punished with life imprisonment with no possibility of death or parole. 

Second Degree Murder:

This is the murder without a preconceived intention of killing. It has a penalty of about 15 years of life imprisonment. 


This is a subset of 1st-degree murder and is executed when someone is killed while commissioning a felony like rape or robbery. 

What Is Manslaughter? 

What Is Manslaughter?

Manslaughter typically refers to unintentionally killing another individual. The case is treated as a less severe crime like murder. There are two forms of manslaughter which are voluntary manslaughter and involuntary manslaughter. 

Voluntary manslaughter takes place when a person kills another with no premeditation. It takes place when the killing was not premeditated. 

The provocation here will be that any reasonable person will have acted in the same way under similar circumstances. The penalty for this offense may be up to eleven years of imprisonment. 

Involuntary manslaughter takes place when a person kills another through actions that entail a wanton disregarding of life by the other person. The act is committed without a true intent to kill or premeditation. 

However, the death of the other individual still takes place as a result. The penalty of involuntary manslaughter can be up to five years of imprisonment. 

Vehicular manslaughter takes place when an individual dies in a motor vehicle accident as a result of the gross negligence of the driver. 

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State Of Mind: 

Courts and legislatures have developed a whole body of law that relates to the mental state differences between involuntary manslaughter and unintentional second-degree murder. Its determination typically narrows down to the level of blameworthy the fact-finder establishes in the defendant.  

For instance, suppose a person is driving a track that runs over killing another person. The offender can be accused of the following; 

Not Guilty Of Committing A Crime At All:

If the offender is issued for a civil case, he can pay the family damages for negligence. That implies that the driver did not use ordinary care. 

Conviction Of Involuntary Manslaughter:

If the drivers’ actions were reckless, i.e. he was negligent more than ordinary, like driving under alcohol influence; he may face the conviction of involuntary manslaughter. That is why you need a clear definition of manslaughter to be able to understand all this. 

Second Degree Murder Conviction: 

Most people don’t understand what is second-degree manslaughter and murder. If the behavior of the driver demonstrates a high level of disregard for human life, the judge will consider it as a malice afterthought. 

The crime in such a case would be second-degree murder. For instance, the driver may have the victim killed for DUI, and also his license had been withdrawn because of the past convictions of drinking under influence. The judge will convict you for 2nd-degree murder. 

Manslaughter vs. Murders: Difference Between Manslaughter And Murders

Manslaughter vs. Murders Difference Between Manslaughter And Murders

Several case examples can help you to understand the difference between manslaughter vs. murders. The secret is looking at each of them within their context. 

Provoked Killing:

Suppose Martin is walking along a very busy street. James bumps into Martin and walks away without apologizing. Martin is angered by the rudeness of James, takes his gun, and shoots him. 

Martin can be convicted of 2nd-degree murder because he killed James intentionally. However, this killing was most likely not premeditated and this could have elevated the gun shooting to first-degree murder. This is not also a form of heat of passion killing that will equal voluntary manslaughter.  

Even though Martin was provoked in one way or another, the circumstances under which this took place were not that extreme to make a reasonable person to get out of control. 

Intentional Act From An Accidental Result:

Suppose Mike and John are standing on top of a staircase then an argument emerges between the two of them. The argument may get increasingly animated, making Mike point a finger at John. This makes John push James backward, fall down the stairs, and die. 

It is another clear example that differentiates manslaughter vs. murders. James may be guilty of committing involuntary manslaughter. However, shoving someone who is standing at the top of the balcony is criminal negligence.  

However, the circumstances under which this took place don’t suggest that the behavior was reckless to suggest extreme indifference to human life. If this was the case, it may elevate the offense to first-degree murder or 1st-degree manslaughter. 

The judge has to establish whether the provocation extent made this homicide voluntary manslaughter. All these points lead to the point of understanding what is 2nd-degree manslaughter is and is manslaughter a felony. 


With all this information, you can now compare and contrast murder vs. manslaughter. There are also times when the murder has a cooling-off period before the offender executes his plan. All this will help to tell whether you are dealing with first-degree manslaughter or it is something else. 

Whatever the case, the circumstances under which this takes place will help the judge to differentiate between manslaughter vs. murders. The punishment also depends on the intensity of the murder or manslaughter. A reputable lawyer will help you reduce the verdict from a possible murder to manslaughter. 

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Sofia Kelly is a passionate blogger. She loves to share her thoughts, ideas and experiences with the world through blogging.

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