What is the difference between murder and manslaughter?
Both murder and manslaughter involve the unlawful killing of a human being. Murder, Penal Code Section 187, requires that the killing for murder involve “malice aforethought.” This is an old legal expression dealing with conduct that is especially depraved or dangerous. Murder one generally involves premeditation or deliberation, though it can be done in merely seconds or murder committed during a dangerous felony such as a robbery. Murder two does not require the same level of conduct and can even occur by killing someone while driving drunk in a highly reckless manner.
Voluntary manslaughter is just like murder one except that the crime is mitigated or lessened because it is done “during a sudden quarrel or heat of passion” such as when one finds their spouse in bed with another or during self defense that is excessive or unreasonable such as shooting someone during a fist fight. Involuntary manslaughter, the lesser of the four crimes generally involves killing someone while performing a misdemeanor or an inherently dangerous action. Causing the death of a baby by leaving it in a warm car or by forgetting to check on the baby in the bathtub are textbook examples of involuntary manslaughter—criminal activity but without any intent to kill.
While these differences may sound academic, a person convicted of any degree of murder in Calfornia will probably spend the rest of their life in jail. Murderers, with few exceptions, are not being released on parole. Manslaughter on the other hand often results in a sentence of ten or twenty years or less depending on whether a weapon was involved.
Anyone charged with a homicide should hire the best attorney immediately, a certified criminal law specialist. Often it is possible to negotiate a plea to one of the lesser degree of homicides and save a person from spending life in jail or to convince a jury that a homicide is not a murder.
At the Law Offices of Russell S. Babcock. We are experts in homicide cases. In 2007 Russell Babcock received a finding of not guilty for a client in a first degree murder case. There are very few attorneys in San Diego that have accomplished this. (See verdict form under Cesar C.)
If you are a loved one has been charged with a homicide, call the homicide experts today San Diego / Tijuana criminal defense attorneys/lawyer, Russell Babcock for your free consultation.