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Murder v. Manslaughter Under California Laws

To the loved ones of a person killed by another, there is little difference between the terms murder and manslaughter – either way, they lost their loved one. However, for the person facing criminal charges of killing another person, the difference between murder and manslaughter can be huge. It can mean the difference between a death sentence or spending the rest of your life in prison and spending less than twenty-five years in prison with the possibility of parole. The main difference between the two charges lie in the intent of the person charged with the death.

Murder Charges

In order to be charged with murder, you must have had intent to kill another person. This is known as malice aforethought. In other words, to be charged with murder, you must have maliciously premeditated or planned to kill another person. This means you wanted him or her dead and executed your plan to make sure it happened.

Manslaughter Charges

In order to be charged with manslaughter, the prosecution does not need to prove that you had premeditation, or malice aforethought. Under California laws, the state does not need to prove that you even considered killing another person in order to charge you with manslaughter.

You can be charged with either voluntary or involuntary manslaughter. For involuntary manslaughter, the death must have occurred while you were doing something that was either negligent or which happened while you were engaging in some type of misdemeanor crime.

Most voluntary manslaughter charges are brought when the death occurs during the heat of moment. For example, you can be charged with manslaughter if you kill another person while you are having an argument that turned violent. A third category of manslaughter is known as vehicular manslaughter. These charges are brought if you unintentionally killed another person with your car.

Possible Defenses to the Crimes of Murder and Manslaughter

The specific defense your Central Valley criminal defense lawyer depends on the specific facts surrounding the crime. Some common defenses for the charges of murder and manslaughter include:

  • Innocence – you were mistakenly identified for another person who actually committed the crime, or you have an alibi for the time of the crime
  • The death was accidental or unforeseeable
  • There is insufficient evidence against you
  • You killed the other person in self-defense of yourself or the defense of another person
  • Insanity or lack of mental capacity

Call an Experienced Central Valley Criminal Defense Attorney

If you or someone that you care about has been arrested or charged with a crime that you did not commit, it is important that you immediately hire an experienced criminal defense attorney to help protect your legal rights and ensure that you have the best defense possible to avoid a criminal conviction.

For more information or to schedule a complimentary consultation with Central Valley criminal defense attorney Gurjit Srai, please call us at (209) 323-5558 or (559) 449-1447, or complete our online form.

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