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  • Homicide vs. Murder

    Posted on by JACK MKHITARIAN

    The death of another person is a grave matter, no matter how the death occurs. Unfortunately, some fatalities happen because another person makes it happen. In other cases, an overzealous prosecutor will charge someone with murder. Many people facing an investigation for homicide want to know:

    • What is the difference between homicide and murder?; 
    • Are there different penalties for homicide vs. murder?; and
    • How does the prosecutor decide who to charge with murder vs. homicide?

    An experienced attorney can answer these questions and more about homicide vs. murder charges. Contact New Mexico Criminal Law Offices today to talk to a homicide lawyer.

    What Is the Difference Between Murder and Homicide?

    Homicide is an umbrella term that describes several types of killings. Murder is an unlawful homicide committed with malice aforethought. Malice aforethought means the actor has a deliberate purpose or design or determination distinctly formed before the commission of the act. Acting with a conscious disregard for human life also constitutes malice aforethought. 

    Most states outline at least two degrees of murder charges, one that requires premeditation and one that does not. Many states also charge defendants with felony murder whenever someone’s death occurs during the commission of a felony. 

    Other Forms of Homicide

    Unlawful killings of another person without malice aforethought represent another category of homicide: manslaughter. Many states charge individuals who unintentionally cause another person’s death or kill someone in the heat of passion with manslaughter.

    Voluntary manslaughter is defined as an intentional, unlawful killing committed in the heat of the moment, typically requiring sufficient provocation from the victim.

    Involuntary manslaughter is defined as an unintentional, unlawful killing of someone through criminal negligence or a reckless disregard for human life. Involuntary manslaughter charges can arise when someone’s careless driving results in another person’s death.

    Another form of homicide is justifiable homicide. When necessary, individuals can use deadly force to defend themselves or others. If someone reasonably believes their life is in danger, they can do whatever is necessary to protect themselves. If the attacker is killed in the process, the homicide is justifiable.

    Purely accidental deaths are also a form of homicide. To file charges, the prosecution must prove the accused possessed the necessary state of mind to justify criminal charges. The District Attorney must prove your mental state beyond a reasonable doubt. Your attorney can present evidence to show a lack of deliberation or planning on your part and the accidental nature of the death.

    Want to Know the Difference Between Murder and Homicide? Contact a Lawyer at New Mexico Criminal Law Offices to Find Out

    Our criminal defense attorneys at New Mexico Criminal Law Offices have over two decades of combined experience defending homicide cases. We focus primarily on criminal defense cases so we can dedicate adequate time and attention to each clients’ case. An attorney on our team will take the time to listen to your side of the story and build a strategy to bolster the weaknesses in the state’s case. Contact New Mexico Criminal Law Offices today to schedule a free initial consultation.