The Difference Between Murder And Manslaughter In California

When you are accused of causing someone else's death in California, you are often facing homicide charges. Even so, not all homicide charges are alike. You may be charged with manslaughter, or with murder. But what is the difference between the two?

  • Manslaughter charges are reserved for those who kill another, without the malicious intent of killing them. If you cause a fatal accident by drunk driving, for example, you may not have set out with the intention of ending another life - but you still may face vehicular manslaughter charges.
  • Murder, on the other hand, requires malicious intent to end a life. As a consequence, murder charges often come with steeper sentences.

Anyone facing homicide charges needs an attorney with significant experience to minimize the consequences you are facing and ensure you are treated fairly under the law. The Law Office of Jacqueline Goodman has been doing just that for over 20 years, defending those arrested on suspicion of manslaughter and murder in California.

Voluntary Vs. Involuntary Manslaughter

Manslaughter, while lacking malicious intent, can still be voluntary. Voluntary manslaughter occurs when someone is strongly provoked (in an instance where any other reasonable person may be provoked), and kills another "in the heat of the moment" in response to that provocation. If a wife comes home to find her husband cheating on her, and kills him in response - this would often be classified as voluntary manslaughter.

When the death is caused by gross negligence or recklessness, it is considered involuntary manslaughter.

First Vs. Second Degree Murder

Murder, while more serious than manslaughter, is also broken up into two tiers in California. First-degree murder is the intentional killing of another person with malice, aforethought. Examples include:

  • The death is caused by explosives, poison or a weapon of mass destruction
  • The murder weapon uses armor-piercing ammunition
  • The murder occurs after the victim is tortured
  • The murder occurs alongside another felony, such as robbery or rape

Second degree murder is the unintentional killing of another person without malice or aforethought. These also include "implied malice" murders such as DUI killings where malice is implied from a conscious disregard of the risk of human life.

When The Stakes Are High, Trust Attorney Jacqueline Goodman

Manslaughter or murder - no matter what charge you are facing, the stakes could not be any higher. Your rights, your freedom and your future may hang in the balance. You can't just trust any lawyer to fight by your side.

Our law firm is familiar with these kinds of cases and will fight tirelessly to ensure the criminal justice system treats you fairly. Far too often, prosecutors and judges reach conclusions too early, and forget that you are innocent until proven guilty.

We are here to help. Call our firm at 866-287-6930 to schedule a free initial consultation. Flexible payment options are available.