Homicide: Murder and Manslaughter Charges
The term “homicide” means the killing of one human being by another without justification or excuse. Murder and manslaughter are two types of crimes that may occur within the context of homicide.
Laws vary across the country, but most states recognize different degrees of murder based on the specific circumstances of the homicide. For example, an individual may be charged with:
- first-degree murder (a deliberate, premeditated killing);
- second-degree murder (a killing without premeditation);
- second-degree murder for DWI or felony death by motor vehicle; and
- felony murder (a death that occurs during the commission of a felony).
A conviction for murder carries a minimum penalty of imprisonment under North Carolina laws and federal laws. Punishments for murder range from life in prison (usually without parole) to the death penalty. Aggravating factors may lead to a more severe punishment, including the death penalty, while mitigating factors may lead to a lesser punishment. Aggravating factors are those that make the murder more horrific, such as one that involves torture or rape. Mitigating factors are those that could be argued for a lesser sentence, such as mental illness or the absence of a prior criminal record.
Manslaughter, by definition, is the unlawful killing of one human being by another without malice or forethought. Different types of manslaughter, along with a brief definition, include the following:
- involuntary manslaughter (the unintentional killing of another as the result of criminally negligent or reckless conduct, and may also include the unintentional killing of another during the commission of a crime other than a felony);
- voluntary manslaughter (killing of another when there are mitigating circumstances that may support a lesser charge than murder);
- vehicular manslaughter (when a driver of a vehicle had no intention to kill or cause serious bodily harm, but operated the vehicle with criminal negligence or during the commission of a crime and caused another’s death).
A conviction for manslaughter generally will carry a lesser punishment than conviction for any degree of murder. A person convicted of voluntary manslaughter will likely face some prison time, while a person convicted of involuntary manslaughter may be able to avoid this loss of liberty.
If you are facing criminal charges involving any degree of murder or manslaughter, your freedom, your future, and possibly your life, may be on the line. You owe it to yourself and your family to be represented by a criminal defense lawyer with experience in these type cases in order to ensure the best possible outcome.
At Tharrington Smith, criminal defense is a cornerstone of our firm’s practice. Our lawyers are widely recognized for the advocacy we provide to citizens accused of crimes, including homicide, manslaughter and felony murder. Cumulatively, the seven lawyers forming the Criminal Defense Section of the firm offer centuries of experience to representation and protection of the rights of clients accused of crimes in North Carolina at both the state and federal level. You need a qualified, experienced defense attorney in your corner. Our lawyers provide that for every level of crime and all levels of court.
Call our firm today if you or your loved one is being accused or investigated by state law enforcement, federal law enforcement, or a governmental agency that may result in a loss of your liberty, freedom, or property. It could make all the difference in the ultimate result from accusations levied against you.
When the stakes are high, the award-winning criminal defense attorneys at Tharrington Smith can help. The criminal defense attorneys at Tharrington Smith provide legal representation to clients who have been charged with murder, manslaughter, and other serious felonies. Our criminal defense attorneys are experienced and skilled trial attorneys who are admitted to practice in both state and federal courts. We are committed to protecting the rights of the clients we serve, and you can count on us to thoroughly investigate all relevant aspects of the charges against you. When you need the best lawyer you can get, let the criminal defense attorneys at Tharrington Smith put their talent and resources to work for you.