People often talk about homicide and murder as if they are the same thing. And both are used to describe the death of one person at the hands of another. Legally, though, they are very different. 

The term homicide implies that one person is responsible for another’s death. Sometimes, such as in self-defense cases, it may not even be illegal. These cases are often called justifiable, excusable or non-criminal homicide. 

Homicide by degrees of severity 

Murder is always illegal homicide. It implies and the prosecutor will attempt to prove that the defendant not only committed the crime, but acted with malicious intent or criminal negligence (guilty act, guilty mind). Homicide is further classified by degree:

First-degree murder: Is pre-meditated, purposeful murder. 

Second-degree murder: Is caused by dangerous acts or conduct. 

Manslaughter: Can be voluntary or involuntary homicide.

  • Voluntary manslaughter is the intentional, yet spontaneous killing of another. For example, killing someone in the “heat of passion.”  Note that you can not just claim passion, the situation leading up to the death must be one that would emotionally or mentally unhinge a reasonable person. Some states use the term third-degree murder.
  • Involuntary manslaughter is sometimes called criminally negligent homicide. It is usually the charge if you unintentionally kill someone through an unlawful or reckless act. For example, causing a fatal car accident while driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is criminally negligent homicide. You can also be charged with involuntary manslaughter if someone dies because of your high level of negligence in performing a lawful act. 

The consequences of a conviction are significant

 Murder draws the most serious punishment, because society regards it as its most terrible crime. A conviction may result in a lengthy prison sentence. 

Skilled criminal defense is essential

 For any legal issue, it is smart to retain an attorney experienced in defending those accused of homicide. 

You need a criminal defense attorney who will:

  • Make an effective argument for dropping of charges
  • Investigate every aspect of the case
  • Challenge prosecutor’s evidence
  • Negotiate for a plea if appropriate
  • Obtain reduced bail 
  • Be strategic regarding jury selection
  • Be prepared to fight vigorously in court

 If you’ve been charged with murder, contact The Nick Carter Law Firm.



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315 S. Gillette Ave, P.O. Box 909 , Gillette, wy 82717
| Phone: 307.682.9349

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