It is common for people to use the terms “murder” and “manslaughter” to mean essentially the same thing. However, they are not the same crime and they are not charged the same way. Yes, both involve taking a person’s life but that is where the similarities end. Read on to learn the difference between murder charges and manslaughter charges, then contact Law Offices of Patrick S. Aguirre at 800-572-1252 if you are being accused of or charged with either.
The Definition of Manslaughter
There are three main types of manslaughter charges: voluntary, involuntary, and vehicular manslaughter. Voluntary means that you intended to kill the victim, involuntary means that it was an accident, and vehicular manslaughter involves accidentally killing someone in a vehicle when you were at fault.
The Definition of Murder
Murder also involves taking someone’s life, but the main difference is that murder involves “malice afterthought.” To put it simply, it is murder if the person went into the situation with the plan to murder the person. That planning could be done weeks before the action or just a few minutes beforehand. What matters is that there was prior intent. That makes it murder rather than manslaughter.
Note that voluntary manslaughter is also voluntary but there is no prior planning. A common example is a bar fight. A person might get out of control after the fight starts and end up beating someone to death. This would be manslaughter unless the killer went into the situation planning to start a bar fight and kill someone.
Potential Penalties for Murder or Manslaughter Charges
Murder can result in more significant penalties compared to manslaughter. A person convicted of first-degree murder can be sentenced to 25 years to life in prison or the death penalty. A person convicted of voluntary manslaughter could be sentenced to 15 years to life in prison, fines of up to $10,000, or the death penalty.
An involuntary manslaughter conviction can result in two to four years in prison and fines of up to $10,000, while a conviction for vehicular manslaughter can result in up to a year in jail and fines of as much as $1,000. If a person already has one or two strikes re: the California Three Strikes Laws, they can face additional sentencing enhancements.
The Death Penalty is Still Legal in California
Sometimes people are surprised to see that a person can still be sentenced to death in California. While the governor did put a moratorium into place in 2019, it not illegal. As a result, a person can be sentenced to death but they are unlikely to actually be executed anytime in the near future.
If you are charged with or accused of murder or manslaughter, you must find the right attorney. You have found that person in Law Offices of Patrick S. Aguirre. Call our offices today at 800-572-1252 to request a free legal consultation.