Crime shows on television frequently misuse the terms "homicide" and "murder" because so often they use the two interchangeably. There is a difference between the two, and that important difference may be what saves someone who is wrongly facing murder charges from going away to prison for the rest of their life… or worse. In this blog, we examine this critically important difference and explain why it is important if you are facing charges of one of these serious crimes.
The legal definition of homicide is actually very simple: the killing of one person by another. This can include all situations, everything from a pre-meditated slaughter to a police officer shooting a suspect who threatens their safety or the safety of those around them in order to prevent them from causing more harm.
Homicides can be criminal, but they can also be excusable or justifiable, whether in self-defense or to save the life of another (in the case of a police officer). This is important because when noting the event in these justifiable cases, authorities register that an individual was killed but no crime was committed and no charges are being pressed.
Murder, on the other hand is a type of homicide that involves intent on behalf of the perpetrator, usually meaning pre-meditation or a plan to commit the crime. There are three classes of murder in Colorado: first-degree, second-degree, and manslaughter. Each of these different classes has contributing factors.
- First-degree murder involves deliberate, pre-meditated intent when causing the death of another. This can also include using extreme cruelty and heinous methods in committing the crime. Deaths that are intentionally caused while committing another serious crime, such as arson, rape, or kidnapping, are also considered to be first-degree murder, even if the pre-meditated intent was not present in the crime.
- Second-degree murder is deliberately causing the death of another person, but doing so without premeditation. The legal language uses the term "Sudden heat of passion," meaning knowingly killing someone while emotionally enraged or provoked falls into this category.
- Manslaughter does not have any intent or deliberation, but is charged when the wanton disregard or reckless actions of the perpetrator cause the death of another. This can include knowingly assisting another person in the act of committing suicide.
Get Help with Your Charges
Every unjustified homicide conviction is considered a felony of some sort, many of which carry extremely harsh penalties, including life in prison or possibly even the death penalty (though it is exceedingly rare in Colorado). When you are facing criminal charges for a serious crime, such as murder or homicide, securing the services of a skilled criminal defense attorney is crucial to maintaining your freedom and clearing your name.
Don't face your prosecution alone; when you are facing criminal charges, call the skilled attorneys at The Samuelson Law Firm. My team of skilled legal representatives has helped those facing criminal accusations by providing award-winning criminal defense counsel with an impressive track record of success. Our relentless style of advocacy in the courtroom combined with our up-to-date knowledge of the law and unparalleled commitment to our clients has earned us several renowned legal honors, including becoming AV® Rated by Martindale-Hubbell®.
Call The Samuelson Law Firm today and schedule your free case evaluation with my elite legal team.