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What is the difference between homicide and murder?

On Behalf of | May 1, 2024 | Violent Crimes

If you accidentally kill another individual, is that homicide or murder? Although used synonymously, homicide and murder have distinct meanings.

Homicide vs. murder

Think of homicide as an umbrella term encompassing any situation where one person causes the death of another individual. For example, you are cleaning your gun and it accidentally fires, fatally shooting someone nearby; that falls under homicide. Murder, on the other hand, is a specific type of homicide that involves malice with the intent to harm. This means the individual planned the act with the intention of killing someone.

Penalties for homicide

The penalties for homicide can range from manslaughter (unintentional killing) to reckless homicide (acting with disregard for human life). Manslaughter may warrant a prison sentence of a few years, while reckless homicide could lead to a longer sentence or even a charge of involuntary manslaughter with probation.

Penalties for murder

Murder has more severe penalties, depending on the degree. It can result in a lengthy prison sentence or even life in prison, with the possibility of the death penalty in some jurisdictions. In California, a first-degree murder conviction may include penalties like 25 years to life in a California state prison and life in prison without the possibility of parole.

The distinction between homicide and murder can have a significant impact on your life. If you are facing legal charges, you may talk to a professional who can help you navigate the complexities of the law and fight for the best possible outcome.