By Corey Joe –
There is a thin line between murder and manslaughter. Although the two result in an untimely death, they differ with motives and predetermination. The two also have different punishments depending on the state where the crime occurred.
• First Degree Murder
First degree murder can be a result of intentionally killing a police officer on duty. This can also occur when the offender predetermines and successfully causes a person’s death. First degree murder also includes death from sexual assault, hijacking, kidnapping, hostage taking and forcible confinement. Death from terrorism is also considered a first degree murder.
• Second Degree Murder
On the other hand, second degree murder can be intentional or unintentional. It involves a victim’s death that does not fit in any category given above. This can also be the sentence given to offenders who intentionally kill a person with motives that do not fall under the categories of first degree murder.
• Unlawful Act
An unlawful act is a homicide that involves the victim’s death. This is a result of a death from unintentional acts. An example is when a person punches another individual and causes his or her death. Another instance is when an offender fires a gun and accidentally shoots and kills the victim. It involves the victim’s death from direct assault or from the effects of injuries acquired.
• Criminal Injustice
Criminal injustice is a result of a death caused from the offender’s recklessness. It can result from deliberate acts that are lower than the expected standards for professionals. An example is when a licensed physician fails to maintain legal standards of practice and causes a patient’s death. This is also applicable to any licensed healthcare provider who fails to meet standards and causes death. They can be charged with criminal injustice when the injuries acquired directly lead to the patient’s death.
This is commonly regarded as crimes that arise from the heat of passion. It can occur when the offender is threatened and resolves to kill the victim. Voluntary manslaughter can result from self-defense or provocation. These crimes do not fall under first or second degree murder as there is no intent to kill the victim beforehand.
Involuntary manslaughter results from the offender’s carelessness or recklessness. It can occur when the victim dies due to the offender’s lack of regard for his or her life. Common cases involve reckless driving and negligence from healthcare providers.
Murder vs. Manslaughter
• Motive or Intent
Murder can be in the first or second degree. This is determined through the suspect’s intent or motive. A first degree murder is a planned and deliberate attempt to take the victim’s life. On the other hand, a second degree murder may not have predetermined intent and does not fall under any first degree murder category.
Manslaughter does not involve the predetermined intent to cause a person’s death. It can also take two forms. This includes criminal negligence or unlawful acts. Criminal negligence results from the person’s inability to regard the victim’s life properly. This often happens in cases that involve a licensed professional who shows reckless disregard for the victim. Some cases occur in hospital settings when medical professionals like physicians fail to use their better judgment in keeping the patient safe.
On the other hand, an unlawful act results when the person unintentionally causes the victim’s death through direct assault. Some cases include physical injuries to the victim without the motive to cause his or her death. It can also be from an accidental gunshot that leads to someone’s death.
First degree murder often results in an automatic life sentence. This includes no possibility of parole for a minimum of 25 years. If the offender is paroled after 25 years of imprisonment, he or she will remain under parole for the rest of their life. The offender must report to the designated parole officer and follow strict rules. If they commit another crime, they will be sent back to jail with no possibility of parole.
Second degree murders have lower punishment with life sentences and a possibility of parole after 10 to 15 years of imprisonment. The parole is subject to the judge’s discretion and the offender’s behavior inside prison.
Manslaughter has a slightly lower punishment compared to murder. This is because of the offender’s unintentional motive to cause death. The sentence is also different depending on the crime’s degree and the state where it happened.
Most cases that involve manslaughter result in imprisonment of four or more years. This depends on the kind of manslaughter and the tool used to inflict death. A case involving a licensed professional may have a different punishment than a case that involves an accidental shooting. The probation and parole are also not the same depending on the judge’s discretion.
If you’re innocent and being charged for a serious crime such as manslaughter or murder in Maryland, contact the Maryland criminal defense law firm at Shapiro & Mack.