Why do people call a crime a homicide and not a murder? What is the difference between Homicide Vs Murders? Both are conditions where people are killed illegally. Even if we are not personally involved in criminal proceedings, many of us have this doubt.
- So, are you confused about the legal consequences of homicide vs murders? Do you want to know the difference between the two? As an aware citizen of the United States, it is always good to know your way around the law.
- We must remember that not all killings are morally or legally equivalent. Homicide is usually a larger umbrella term that can include the killing of a human being.
- On the other hand, if the killing is part of a pre-meditated killing that was not a part of self-defense it is called murder.
This article will be on the topic of homicide vs murders. We will discuss some of the most popular researched subjects like “homicide vs murders difference”. We hope that by the time you reach the end of this article, you will have a clearer idea of both crimes.
To make it easier for you, our readers, we will start by discussing each crime in a separate light.
What Is Murder?
In the discussion about homicide vs murders, the definition of Murder plays a very important role.
- Murder is a serious criminal offense. It happens when a person kills another with ill intentions.
- In the field of law, we call it “malice aforethought“, which means there was pre-meditation before killing the victim.
Murder: A History
The History Of Murder dates back To the time when human civilization first came into being. First-ever records of Murder include archaeological evidence pointing to violence that led to death.
- If we are being subjective, we can find one of the first instances to murder in the Bible.
- The book of Genesis talks about Cain and Abel, who were sons of Adam and Eve. One brother had killed the other out of jealousy.
- Now, you must understand that we are naming the crime murder and not homicide because there was an intention to cause harm along with pre-meditation of the crime.
- The 20th century saw the most developments in the world of criminal law. Laws relating to murder, intent, and culpability developed the most during this century. United States history of laws relating to murder and homicide are of dynamic nature.
What Are The Essential Elements Of Murder?
In the discussion about homicide vs murders, there are a few essential elements we must read about.
- Without these being present, a crime will not be considered to be murder under the law.
The First Constituent Is Unlawful Killing.
Killing is never justified. However, in some conditions, killing another to protect oneself from harm will become necessary.
- This is the very element that distinguishes murder as a crime from other crimes like homicide.
- So, the killing has to be legally unjustified for it to fall under Murder.
Intention And Mental State
The person killing the victim should be in a mental state to commit Murder.
- The perpetrator has to be in a state of mind where there is malice regarding the victim.
- They should all think about killing the victim before the act. Intentions to kill the person should be without external force.
The person must show consciousness of this regard for the victim’s life.
- Activity that leads to the Killing should be reckless enough to cause the death of the victim.
- There is also a condition when the person committing the act should know the risks of the act and the outcome.
Direct Correlation Between Act And Death
The actions of the perpetrator should lead to the death of the victim for it to be a murder.
- For example, a person is suffering from a severe disease. Now they perpetrated his him lightly.
- However, the victim died from his disease two days later. This will not constitute murder.
There Should Be Death
- This sounds like some prophecy, doesn’t it? However, it is true.
For the court to consider an act to be murder, there has to be the victim’s death and not just harm.
- Without the Killing, there is no Murder.
Now, this is a debatable point, but it still exists.
- The perpetrator committing the murder should be in such a state of mind that he can tell right from wrong.
- For example, if a person is mentally challenged, the law will not expect them to have the same conscience as others.
- Therefore, insanity is often a ground of defense under criminal law.
- We understand that when the victim dies the family suffers whether or not the perpetrator is sane. However, the law exists equally for all.
- These were the specific elements that make up a murder. Statutes relating to murder can vary from one state to another.
Now, to further carry out our discussion on homicide vs murders, we will get to know a bit more about the types of murder.
Types Of Murder
In this section, we will discuss the different types of Murder under the law of the United States.
- It will help us understand the true differences in homicide vs murders later on.
- Under the law of the United States, murder is divided into various types based on the degrees.
- There are different severity in these degrees.
- We must also remember that types of Murder will differ from one state to another state.
So, let’s discuss the types of Murder in this section of our homicide vs murders article.
Murder In The First Degree
First-degree murders are the most severe kind.
- They bring about the harshest of punishments from the court.
- There is a pre-meditation and intention to kill the victim of this kind.
- Pre-meditation usually means that the perpetrator had planned the murder before committing it.
- Penalties for first-degree murder can involve lifelong imprisonment without the possibility of payroll, long prison sentences, or even that penalty in some cases.
Murder In The Second Degree
Second-degree murder is not as serious as first-degree murder, but it is still more than most cases.
- In this type of Murder, the perpetrator still has an intention to kill the victim.
- We could say that the pre-meditation in this kind is not as serious as in first-degree murders.
- However, the perpetrator does show a serious indifference and disregard for human life.
- Punishment for this degree of Murder can be lengthy prison sentences, fines, or both.
This is the type of Murder that occurs when the perpetrator kills the victims while committing another dangerous felony.
- For example, if a person is going to conduct a robbery, burglary, or even kidnapping and, in the process, ends up killing someone.
- This act of killing will be a felony murder.
- You can understand that the primary element in this crime is a dangerous felony that leads to death.
- Punishment for felony murders can depend on state laws.
However, since these crimes are a compilation of the different types of severe crimes, they often lead to long prison sentences.
Murder In The Third Degree
Third-degree murder is a charge that falls between second-degree murder and manslaughter.
- We can understand that crimes are not particularly distinguishable all the time. The court may consider different circumstances before declaring a case to be a third-degree Murder.
- Usually, these are the kind of instances where reckless activities or serious indifference towards human life lead to a second-degree Murder.
- The punishment for third-degree murder is usually less severe in nature than second-degree murder.
Now that we are done discussing the various types of murder, it is time for us to move on to the next section of homicide vs murders.
What Is Homicide?
In this legal debate of homicide vs murders, it is of paramount importance that we discuss what homicide is, what its essentials are, and the types of it.
- Homicide, under the law of the United States, is an umbrella term that can define the killing of a person by another person.
- An important point to note in the homicide vs murders debate is that homicide is a generous category for the illegal killing of a person. Thus, we should remember that homicide technically includes both murder and manslaughter under its category.
- Homicide is not inherently criminal in nature, like Murder. It has been taken to mean in the most neutral sense throughout the history of law. When the act of one person leads directly or indirectly to the death of another one, it is a homicide.
- To the non-low man, a homicide is when someone takes another one’s life. We have watched crime shows where the detective comes into the scene and calls it a “double homicide,” right?
- Well, this is because they do not want to arrive at a conclusion without going through all the evidence and the court ruling on it finally. However, this does not mean that a homicide cannot be a criminal act.
But it means there is a chance for it to be a justifiable killing or a murder. Much like murder homicide cases also have essential elements and types under US law.
History Of Homicide
The concept of homicide comes with one person causing the death of another. Now, the distinction between homicide vs murders is not as old as murder. Throughout human history, the concept of wrongful killing has existed.
- Back then, there were really not many distinctions between murder and homicide. Most records point to the first-ever homicide being the same as murder. It is the same biblical story we discussed in the earlier section of Murder.
- Now, there are archaeological studies that show violent conflicts between people that resulted in death.
- However, those cannot be definitely called a murder or a homicide without putting those circumstances under the current laws that exist today.
- Violent acts of killing have existed right from the beginning of human civilization.
Essentials Of Homicide
Now, to understand the clear distinction between homicide vs murders, let us find out the essential elements of homicide first.
- Homicide is a broad umbrella term in compassing the criminal act of a person causing the death of another.
Usually, it can include lawful and unlawful deaths. However, more often than not in criminal law, we use the term to determine unlawful deaths only.
- Since homicide as a broad category can include murder and manslaughter, the essential elements of these do not differ too much.
- Therefore, there are only specific circumstances and intentions of a crime that can distinguish homicide vs murders.
The First Essential Is The Unlawful Death
We have dealt with this category in case of murders, too. The act should be revolving around the death of a human being. So, if a violent neighbor has killed a pet unfortunately, out of spite, you cannot charge them with homicide or murder.
The Cause Factor
Much like murder, someone should cause the death of an individual in order for the crime to be a homicide. The death of the individual will have to be the result of physical force, intentional actions, or recklessness of the perpetrator.
Intention Of The Perpetrator
In the case of a homicide, the perpetrator will not need to have an intention to cause the victim’s death. This is a distinguishing factor from Murder. The pre-meditation in case of a murder may not be present in a homicide.
Murder involves the element of malice. This means that the perpetrator will want to cause harm to the victim. Serious bodily harm is usually the motivating factor behind the perpetrator’s actions. However, some types of homicide may not have the element of malicious thought present.
There Are No Degrees To A Homicide
Homicide in itself does not consist of various degrees like Murder.
- However, murder is the only category of homicide that has categories and degrees. Due to the presence or absence of certain factors, such as pre-meditation, there are certain distinctions.
- Some cases, like manslaughter, are the types of homicide where the intent can be questionable.
- This means that the person committing manslaughter may not always have criminal intentions but might just be reckless.
- Therefore, homicide can come from criminal negligence.
- It is very important to keep in mind that there is a very fine line of difference between manslaughter and third-degree murder.
- We do not wish to convey the message that a crime can be either manslaughter or murder. It is on the court to decide based on the circumstances and facts of the case.
Exceptions Of Self Defence
We have seen those cases where a person does not get charged with murder because they committed the act out of self-defense. In cases like those, the crime in question would be homicide.
- Next, the court will look at the evidence and facts of the case and decide which category of homicide it falls into.
- When a homicide takes place the proof of innocence has to come from the defendant. However, in some cases, self-defense or defense of others can be a good enough reason.
- These were the essential components of a homicide. We hope that by now, it is clear that homicide is an umbrella term for all sorts of unlawful killings.
- When a death occurs, and another person causes it, various facts like criminal intention pre-meditation and facts of the case are considered.
Next, the authority will decide whether it’s murder, manslaughter, or other kinds of violent crime. We will move into the next section of our homicide vs murder discussion.
Homicide vs Murders: The Big Fat Comparison
You must be wondering, after reading this far, that since murder is after a subcategory of homicide, why do we need the homicide vs murders comparison? Isn’t murder a type of homicide?
- Well, yes. However, the distinction between homicide and murder is an essential part of the legal system. It is also vital for the family of a victim who awaits proper punishment of the perpetrator.
- We will understand how profound an impact the distinction has when the court awards a short prison sentence to a homicide while a life sentence to a murder case.
- So, distinguishing which category the crime falls into will ultimately decide what the penalties will look like.
- We often need to remember how tricky the workings of the judicial system can be. A little mistake here could lead to massive consequences in one’s life. Citizens of the United States have unwavering faith in the justice system.
- Therefore, all of us who take an interest in this discipline make sure that we see a crime exactly for what it is. To do that, we need to broaden our knowledge.
We will study the comparison of homicide vs murders because even the slightest aspect of it has implications for both the accused and the justice system.
What Are The Similarities?
The Homicide vs Murders comparison will point out several similarities.
- These are the points on which they can be used interchangeably in everyday conversation.
- However, they do indeed have distinctions when we look at these from a criminal law perspective. First, let us check out the similarities.
Both Involve Unlawful Killing
Without there being an unlawful killing of the victim, there can be no homicide or murder. Both of these involve the taking of another person’s life.
- These also have to be without any justification. So, basically, there has to be an unlawful killing of a human being.
- The killing should be directly from the violent acts of the accused.
Both Homicide and murder are criminal offenses under the law of the United States.
- The distinction between homicide vs murders, therefore, only depends on the facts of the specific case.
- In both cases, the court decides after carefully examining the intent, premeditation, etc. Both are violations of the law, nonetheless.
Both Need Investigation
As we have discussed, the court can only conclude either case by going through the facts of the cases.
- All instances under the law of the United States that involve homicide vs murders lead to detailed investigations.
- Law enforcement agencies carry them out through the criminal procedures codified under US law.
- The cases of homicide and murder give rise to legal proceedings. There are various steps of evidence, witnesses, and examinations before the judgment.
Both homicide and murder involve the killing of a citizen. Killing of a human being is the highest form of wrong.
- Thus, in order to discourage such activities, the law mandates that the perpetrators face appropriate legal consequences.
- Punishment for homicide and murders can be imprisonment, fines, or other both.
- As we know from our previous discussions, the degree of intent and premeditation is a factor in determining the punishment severity.
The Social Impacts
When dealing with the subject of homicide vs murders, it would be wrong to ignore the profound impact either of these crimes can have on the families of loved ones.
- Lawmakers of the United States considered the emotional and social loss in cases of murders and homicides.
- This is why they paid special attention to the penalties for these heinous crimes. Both homicide and murder are extremely painful for the victims’ families.
Similar Definitions And Jurisdictions
Murders are basically a subcategory of homicides.
- Therefore, a homicide encompasses all types of unlawful killings while murder is a special subset of it.
- This is why you will see that they have the same legal definitions.
Perpetrators Have A Right To Defense
In both cases of homicide vs murders the accused has a right to an attorney.
- Criminal defense attorneys will be able to defend the rights of the accused and prove that they are innocent.
The Great Impact
We know that homicide vs murders has a huge societal impact. Both have societal impacts. Both of these are a violation of the rights of the public at large.
- Since they have huge impacts on the lives of citizens, both of these crimes lead to policy development.
- They can lead to activities regarding crime prevention, such as measures of gun control and rehabilitation statutes.
- Mental health awareness sessions are often advised to the victim’s families.
Did you know that both for homicides and murders, legal precedents and case laws are major considerations?
- Like most aspects of criminal law, precedents set the rules for future cases involving homicide vs murders.
- In both cases, when a judge reaches a verdict, the convicted has the right to seek appeals.
- This shows that in both homicide vs murders, the law of the United States gives an individual a fair and just legal process.
Differences Between Homicide Vs Murders
Now, let’s come to a very important part. We will be discussing the differences between murders and homicides.
Homicides are situations where a person basically causes the death of another. It is a broad umbrella concept within the sphere of criminal law.
- It consists of unlawful killings of all kinds.
- Murder is a subcategory of homicide.
- This means that it is a specific type of unlawful killing. Since the category of homicide would be confusing for the victims, the perpetrators, and the legal system, lawmakers and legal thinkers came up with these categories under homicide.
Experts say that murder is the most serious form of criminal homicide. Murder is a unique category that is specifically set apart from the other types of homicides.
We cannot possibly discuss the differences between murders and homicides without talking about criminal intentions. Homicides can range from acts that one carries out with ill intentions.
- For example, Murder specifically needs ill intentions. However, some other type of homicide, like manslaughter or homicide, does not need intentions.
- Therefore, ill intentions or pre-meditation is a factor in only some types of homicides.
- In the context of Murder, we must say that ill intentions are necessary to prove guilt. Without pre-meditation or ill intentions, the homicide will not be treated as murder under the law. This is the key point through which motor is specifically distinguished from homicide.
How Severe Is It
Different types of homicide have various degrees of guilt and punishments.
- The types can include justifiable homicide, excusable homicide, manslaughter, and murder, the most serious one.
- Experts often call murder to be the most extreme form of homicide.
- This is because of the Extreme Nature of the crime. The types of Murder we discussed include first, second, and third.
- The degree of Murder will depend on the specific circumstances and the intentions.
Punishments For Homicide Vs Murders
Homicide convictions (that are not Murder) come with less severe punishment than Murder.
- This is because murder is the most heinous form. Different types of punishments can include imprisonment, fines, or both.
- Murder convictions get the harshest penalties.
- Penalties can range from long prison sentences to life imprisonment, the death penalty, and the like.
We now understand that the different categories of homicide have different legal elements. This is because the broad term of homicide has various constituents.
- The different constituents consider different ranges of elements like intent, mental state of the accused, etc.
- Since Murder is a subcategory of homicide, it has its own criteria and defenses.
- Common defenses for murder can be self-defense, insanity, or even lack of intentions. All of these ultimately fit under the concept of homicide.
Final Touch: Common Examples From Everyday
Now, let’s go through some practical examples so that we can better understand the consequences.
Let’s assume the person is driving recklessly, for example, calling while driving, and they get into a car accident.
- The court will consider this particular crime to be a vehicular homicide. Even though action causes the death of another person, it lacks the intention to kill the victim.
- Now, if an individual has a grudge against the person and deliberately runs them over with their vehicle, that has clear ill intentions.
- This case will, therefore qualify as murder due to the pre-meditation to kill the victim .
As our second example, let as consider a situation where a person is attacking another in a fit of rage. The one facing the attack is scared and acts in self-defence.
- Their actions lead to the death of the attacker. What do you think will happen?
- Yes, the court will not consider their action in self-defense to be Murder. It is because there is no harmful intention behind the action that led to the attacker’s death.
- However, this will only stand if the act of self-defense is proportionate to the intensity of the attack.
- This means that if someone throws a punch at you and you decide to hit them in the head with a rod, it could still qualify as murder.
- When someone with the intention to attack another person and then later on clean self-defense, the court may interpret the intention and declare it to be murder.
We have all come across cases where a medical procedure is unsuccessful and, unfortunately, kills the patient.
- These are called medical malpractice cases. Many times, the patient loses their lives due to a healthcare professional’s negligence.
- However, even if a person’s death is involved, the court considers it to be a homicide and not a murder. If we were to go into a deeper subcategory, it would be a negligent or involuntary manslaughter. This is because there is no intent to kill the patient.
- However, if it is a procedure that has a clear intention of causing death, it will definitely be a murder.
- So, now that we have reached an end to our article on homicide vs murders, let us know your thoughts! We hope you enjoyed the read and found it informative!