Manslaughter vs. Murder

Manslaughter vs. Murder

When it comes to manslaughter and murder in California, there is a big difference between how the two are defined and charged. The most vital difference between the two is the element of intent, that is, whether the defendant willfully and intentionally sought to end the victim’s life.

When you’re accused of ending another person’s life, you can be charged with a type of homicide. Note that homicide charges are different, and the details surrounding the charges can be vital to know how you can defend yourself.

Manslaughter vs. murder: What’s the critical difference between the two?

  • Manslaughter: It is the unlawful killing of another person without the intention to cause death. For instance, if you kill someone while drunk driving, you might not have intended to end another person’s life, but you can still be charged with vehicular manslaughter.
  • Murder: It requires malicious intent to kill someone. There is a certain degree of murder, such as panning or premeditating, to kill a person. A murder offense is likely to have a more massive penalty compared to manslaughter.

Is there a similarity between manslaughter and murder?

On the similarity index, both are likely to result in substantial criminal consequences if you’re convicted. You can be jailed for an extended period and incur thousands of dollars in restitution and fines, whether you’re guilty of murder or manslaughter. With this in mind, it is vital to consult an experienced criminal defense lawyer like Attorney Don Hammond, who will represent you well.

Voluntary vs. involuntary manslaughter

Voluntary manslaughter mainly occurs in “the heat of a moment.” It can happen when a person is strongly provoked to a point where an average person pressed in the same manner would unintentionally commit murder. For instance, this happens a lot in what is commonly known as “crimes of passion,” like people who are suddenly made aware of their significant other’s cheating habits as opposed to a partner who will meticulously plan their spouse’s murder weeks before. The latter was premeditated while the former happened spontaneously.  This is often the case with reckless evading and gross negligence.

First-degree vs. second-degree murder

Murder is further divided into two categories. A first-degree murder happens if a person has intentions of killing with planning and malice. Factors such as torture, poisons, explosives, rape escalate a murder offense to the first degree. Second-degree murder is also intentional. But unlike first-degree murder, it lacks the element of premeditation.

The penalties for a murder conviction in California

Murder, whether as a first-degree or second-degree offense, is a felony offense where offenders will serve no less than 15 years in state prison.  Sections 187-199 of the Penal Code explain in detail the penalties of a murder conviction.

First-degree offenders will typically face over 25 years to life without parole.  In the presence of aggravating factors like resisting arrest, the intent to kill for financial gain, or if the offender used an explosive to commit murder, California law requires them to serve a life sentence without parole or the death penalty. The same punishment extends to situations where the victim was a peace officer.

Manslaughter Penalties in California

Just like murder, penalties depend on your history and the situation surrounding the crime. Voluntary manslaughter can attract a jail time of up to 11 years and a $10,000 fine. Involuntary manslaughter has less severe consequences, like up to 4 years in jail, a $10,000 fine. Most violent crimes, including manslaughter, also warrant a lifetime ban from owning and possessing a firearm.

Prosecutors will always push for the maximum penalty. However, it’s possible to have murder charges reduced to voluntary manslaughter.  But this is a skill only a few criminal defense lawyers have. Attorney Don Hammond has successfully defended his clients with criminal charges, including murder and manslaughter. If you’re facing a murder charge, he might help you lower it to manslaughter. Call us today at +3235293660 or visit one of our Southern California firm locations.