Understanding the Differences between Murder and Manslaughter Charges
To understand the difference between murder and manslaughter charges, the definition of homicide must first be discussed. Homicide can be defined as the killing of one person by the act or negligence of another. Criminal homicide may be classified as either:
- Murder – intentionally causing the death of another person.
- Manslaughter – a separate crime from a murder that takes into account a person’s death caused without meaning or intentionality; for this reason, manslaughter tends to carry a reduced sentence, depending on the circumstances in which the death took place.
Murder In New Mexico
Murder can then be further divided into two categories:
- First-degree Murder – any unlawful killing that is both willful and premeditated.
- Second-degree Murder – the crime of murder in the heat of passion, which can involve situations where a person’s actions take place during a period of intense fear, rage, or anger.
Penalties and Sentences for Murder
Whoever commits murder in the first degree is guilty of a capital offense that shall be punished by imprisonment for life or life without the possibility of parole.
Whoever commits murder in the second degree is guilty of a second-degree felony and shall be punished by up to fifteen years in prison and a fine of up to $12,500. For the second-degree murder of a child, the punishment is up to life in prison and a fine of up to $17,500.
Manslaughter In New Mexico
Like murder, manslaughter is divided into two categories:
- Voluntary Manslaughter – resulting from an intentional act done without malice or premeditation and on sudden provocation.
- Involuntary Manslaughter – resulting from recklessness or criminal negligence, or from an unlawful act that is a misdemeanor or low-level felony.
Penalties and Sentences for Manslaughter
Whoever commits voluntary manslaughter is guilty of a third-degree felony, which is punishable by up to six years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.
Whoever commits involuntary manslaughter is guilty of a fourth-degree felony, which is punishable by up to eighteen months in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.
The Statute of Limitations for Murder and Manslaughter in New Mexico
In New Mexico, there is no statute of limitations on murder. As such, a person can be tried for murder decades after the alleged crime has taken place. Manslaughter is, however, another story.
The statute of limitations on manslaughter in New Mexico is five years. Therefore, the state has five years to try a person for the alleged crime.
However, the clock stops ticking on the statute of limitations for manslaughter whenever the defendant hides or flees the state, and when the person charged with the crime does not reside within the state.
Therefore, depending on the circumstance, a person suspected of manslaughter may be tried for the crime long after the statute of limitations would have ordinarily run out.
Albuquerque, New Mexico Homicide Defense Law Firm
Homicide charges can result in a life-changing sentence that should not be left to chance. If you have been charged with homicide, do not hesitate to contact our New Mexico Criminal Law Offices as soon as you are able. You can reach us at (505) 375-4664. The sooner you hire an experienced attorney, the better. Homicide charges especially become difficult to defend the longer you wait to consult an attorney – call us today!