What is the Distinction between Murder and Manslaughter?

Miami & Ft. Lauderdale, Florida

Murder is defined as a person using violent means to deprive another human being of life with malicious intent, whereas manslaughter refers to the taking of another’s life without malicious intent. While both acts result in the death of another person, the main distinction between the two crimes is the intention in the mind of the killer.

For example, a man who plans to kill another individual and executes that plan has committed murder. On the other hand, a man who accidentally runs over a pedestrian while driving has committed manslaughter since the driver not only did not know the victim, but certainly had no reason to kill the pedestrian.

There are three “degrees” to a murder charge in the United States: first, second and third degree murder. First degree murder is premeditated or occurs during the commission of a felony. Second degree murder occurs when there is intent to harm but not to kill; however, the death of the victim was highly possible based on the nature of the attack. Third degree murder applies when the killing was caused by indifference or negligence.

Manslaughter can be considered either voluntary or involuntary. Voluntary manslaughter refers to the intentional killing of another individual when there was no prior intent to kill, and the guilty party acted “in the heat of passion.” Involuntary manslaughter applies when someone accidentally kills another individual due to recklessness, criminal negligence, or while committing a misdemeanor such as a DUI.

If you have been charged with murder or manslaughter in South Florida, you need a strong legal team on your side. Please contact the Miami criminal defense attorneys at The Cochran Firm South Florida today to schedule a confidential consultation.