What is the difference between murder and homicide? Most of us think that it’s basically the same. I mean, there’s death, and there’s one person who’s responsible for it. Right? However, the difference does truly exist. The law dedicates two different sections to these two different types of crimes.
Well, that is what we are here to find out.
- In this article, we will deal with the following.
- The definitions of murder and homicide.
- The penalties of both the crimes.
- What is the difference between murder and homicide?
So, buckle up!
What Is Murder?
What is the difference between murder and homicide? To understand the answer to it, let’s get to know about murder first.
Murder is the act of one human being killing another unlawfully. There are different degrees when it comes to murder.
In the United States, murder and its components have different definitions that vary by state. However, there are different degrees of crime.
What Makes Up Murder?
Thus, we have carefully gone through each of these state laws and brought to you the general principles of murder.
Intention To Kill and Malice Aforethought
Murder has to be a deliberate and intentional act. The person committing it should want to cause the death of another person. Additionally, malice aforethought is the premeditation of killing that is present in the person committing the crime. Therefore, a person committing murder is making a conscious decision to kill.
Murder cannot happen without unlawful killing. This is a very important point as it distinguishes it from homicide in general. Therefore, killing that occurs accidentally or in self-defense may not be murder.
Degrees of Murder
Murder laws often distinguish between different degrees of the crime. A first-degree murder is the premeditated kind. A second-degree murder may be intentional but not necessarily premeditated. Thus, the level of intent and planning varies with the degree of murder.
What Is Homicide?
Homicide is simply the case when one human kills another. It is a general term that may include both lawful and unlawful killings. Therefore, a murder is actually a type of homicide. So, that’s a part of the answer to “what is the difference between murder and homicide?”— Murder is simply a type of homicide.
The concept of forensic medicine can help to understand the broader meaning of “homicide”. During autopsies in the U.S., medical examiners state both the cause and manner of death.
The cause shows the medical condition or injury leading to death. For example, a heart disease or a stab wound. Meanwhile, the manner of death falls into the following categories.
When someone dies naturally, accidentally, or by suicide, it is not a homicide. Thus, when a medical examiner calls it a homicide on the death certificate, it is usually death caused by another person.
Law enforcement authorities start investigating a death and then look for evidence. This evidence, amongst other elements of a crime, will determine if it is a murder or a homicide.
What Are The Legal Penalties For Murder Vs Homicide?
What is the difference between murder and homicide? To answer this question, let us discuss the penalties that US law states for the gravest form of murder, First-degree murder.
Penalties For Murder
There are different guidelines for first-degree murder across states. Some states, such as Ohio, call the most serious murder offense “aggravated murder”. In California, first-degree murder falls under the Penal Code section 189. It involves murder committed with destructive devices, lying in wait, or along with felonies like arson or kidnapping.
Therefore, sentences for state first-degree are severe and relatively consistent. For instance, Florida calls for the death penalty or life imprisonment without parole.
California offers three sentencing options. There is a range of years to life with parole, life without parole, or death.
Most states follow similar procedures as federal cases, allowing juries to decide sentences in first-degree murder trials.
Penalties for other degrees contain lengthy prison sentences. For example, a set number of years to life imprisonment, depending on state laws. However, for manslaughter, penalties are less severe.
Penalties For Homicide
From the previous sections, we know that in the United States, “homicide” is a broader term. So, the penalties will be the same as for cases where one causes the death of another.
Most importantly, it will include penalties for killings that are lawful and unlawful killings. Since Murder is a type of homicide, penalties for homicide include Murder, Manslaughter, and Lawful Killings.
Thus, penalties for homicide and by extension, murder vary by degree, as we discussed in the previous section.
Over all, penalties may include life imprisonment, with or without parole. Additionally, in some states, the death penalty.
For another kind of homicide, Manslaughter, penalties are generally less severe. They may be several years in prison or a minimum of 3-5 years. The penalties will, after all, vary by state.
Thus, we have reached the end of our article on “what is the difference between murder and homicide?”
By now, we understand that murder carries severe consequences, whereas homicide may or may not result in punishment.
Moreover, murders are premeditated crimes, while homicides often happen impulsively. Homicide is a broader term covering any situation where one person causes the death of another. Therefore, it may be on purpose or by accident.
Homicide doesn’t always mean a crime took place. It includes both lawful and unlawful killings.
Note: Our article gives you a complete guide to the differences between murder and homicide. However, despite our informal tone on the subject, we understand the seriousness that these crimes and related procedures demand. If you, a loved one, a client or anyone else is facing these charges, we are here to help you out. You can write to us at Lower My Legal Fees for more personalized advice. All your doubts will be cleared by qualified and trained legal experts.