What is the Difference Between Murder and Manslaughter in New York?



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    Although murder and manslaughter are terms we have all heard before, and they are often used interchangeably, they are not the same. Understandably, the line between manslaughter and murder isn’t always crystal clear. Please continue reading to learn how these charges differ in New York and how a trusted Garden City, NY, Violent Crime Lawyer can fight for you today. 

    How Do Murder and Manslaughter Charges Differ in New York?

    Homicide is defined as the killing of another person. When someone dies at the hands of another person, most people would assume that the charges are pretty cut and dry. However, there are different types of homicide, such as murder and manslaughter. It’s crucial to understand that some acts of homicide are legally justifiable. For instance, killing someone in self-defense can be an affirmative defense to murder. Therefore, depending on the intent behind the killing, a person can face several criminal charges or with no crime at all.

    While many people use these terms interchangeably, they have significant differences. Essentially, the intent behind the act determines whether a crime should be classified as murder or manslaughter. Manslaughter refers to the killing of another person, but it’s distinct from murder because it doesn’t involve malice aforethought. Malice aforethought is the conscious intent to cause death or serious bodily harm to another person with an extreme disregard for human life. Essentially, manslaughter occurs when a person unintentionally kills another person; the crime is not premeditated. Murder, on the other hand, refers to when a person intentionally plans to kill another person. Generally, this crime occurs when an individual plans the crime ahead of time; it’s premeditated. Ultimately, murder involves malice aforethought.

    What Are the Potential Penalties?

    Manslaughter can be voluntary or involuntary. When a person did not intend to kill a victim but acted in such a dangerous and reckless manner that the victim’s death resulted, it’s classified as involuntary manslaughter. Involuntary manslaughter occurs when a person unintentionally kills someone but dies due to the person’s negligent or reckless conduct. Involuntary manslaughter is charged in the second degree, and it’s classified as a Class C felony. This crime is punishable by up to fifteen years in prison. Voluntary manslaughter occurs when someone kills another person but originally intended to cause serious physical injury. This is often known as a “heat of passion” crime, where an individual kills another because they are strongly provoked. Voluntary manslaughter is charged in the first degree, and it’s classified as a Class B felony. This crime is punishable by up to 25 years in prison.

    Murder is a Class A-1 felony. Murder in the second degree is charged when an individual intentionally kills another person or a third party while attempting to kill the original target and shows a depraved indifference to human life. This crime is punishable by 15 to 25 years to life in prison. Murder, in the first degree, occurs when an individual is at least 18 and intends to kill the victim. This is punishable by life in prison without the possibility of parole or for 25 years to life.

    If you’re facing murder or manslaughter charges in New York, please don’t hesitate to contact a determined lawyer from the legal team at Grunwald & Seman, P.C., who can help you explore your legal options and fight for the best possible outcome for your case.

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