When someone commits a homicide, the unlawful killing of another person,
it can be categorized as either murder or manslaughter. However, distinguishing
between the two can be tricky, and somewhat subjective. The way a crime
is typified may depend on the intentions of the defendant, their behavior,
or whether or not they were provoked.
If you are facing charges of either murder or manslaughter, it is crucial
that you understand the difference and how each may be defended in court
to preserve your rights and freedom.
murder is defined as an intentional, unlawful killing committed with “malice
aforethought.” In other words, the killing had to be intentional
and illegal to be considered murder. However, the murder itself need not
be intended. If the defendant intended bodily harm that resulted in the
person’s death or behaved recklessly and without regard for life
in a way that resulted in the person’s death, which is also considered murder.
Murder may be categorized as either first or second degree, depending on
the severity of the crime. First-degree murder is far more serious, usually
because the killing was premeditated, and can result in life in prison
and up to $10,000 in fines. Second-degree murder is a less serious crime
and may lead to a prison sentence of up to 20 years, as well as a $10,000 fine.
Manslaughter may either be classified as involuntary or voluntary, depending
on the intentions of the defendant. Unlike murder, voluntary manslaughter
does not involve malice aforethought or the intention to commit serious
harm to the victim. Instead, voluntary manslaughter occurs when someone
is strongly provoked to kill in the heat of the moment. Manslaughter is
commonly referred to a “heat of passion” crime because it
occurs only when someone provokes an otherwise reasonable person.
Manslaughter is a less serious crime than murder, and to prove that it
was indeed manslaughter, there must be proof or provocation. In San Antonio,
Texas, manslaughter may be convicted as a second-degree felony and can
result in between 2 to 20 years behind bars.
If the person was criminally negligent or reckless, meaning they acted
unreasonably, the crime may be considered involuntary manslaughter. In
other words, involuntary manslaughter is an unintentional killing, and
can also happen through the commission of a crime other than a felony.
However, the line may become blurred with the definition of an unintentional
killing, because if extreme recklessness was involved the crime may be
considered second-degree murder instead.
Murder vs. Manslaughter
In short, murder involves intentional harm to another person, whether it
was an intentional killing or serious bodily damage that resulted in the
person’s death. Manslaughter, on the other hand, is considered a
provoked act of killing, and while not intentional, is still unlawful.
However, intentions are often hard to prove because they require the judge
and jury to understand the mindset of the defendant at the time of the
killing and beforehand. Because of this issue, these differences can be
difficult to distinguish in most cases where intent was not explicitly
expressed and documented.
Defense Against Murder or Manslaughter Charges
If you or someone you love is charged with either murder or manslaughter,
it is crucial that you find an experienced criminal defense attorney to
begin building your case.
Some critical defenses I, Attorney Chelkowski, may look for include:
- An alibis for the defendant at the time of the crime
- Proof that the defendant acted in self-defense
- Proof that the defendant acted in the defense of others
- A case of mistaken identity (the prosecution has charged the wrong person)
- The defendant, usually an officer in this case, acted in the name of duty
- The killing was an accident or an unfortunate mistake
As a top-rated Texas attorney with a near-perfect track record defending
clients facing criminal charges, I, Kerrisa Chelkowski, am confident in
my ability to fight for you. I have been included in Texas
Super Lawyers® Rising Stars℠ list for 6 consecutive years, and have over a decade of experience both
as a prosecutor and a San Antonio criminal defense lawyer. If you are
facing criminal charges, such as murder or manslaughter, I want to help
you. I can use my ample resources to aggressively defend your rights and
seek to have your criminal charges reduced or dropped if at all possible.
Contact the Law Office of Kerrisa Chelkowski
to get started on your case.
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