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What is homicide and are there different types?

When you hear the word "homicide," you might automatically assume that someone has broken the law and killed someone. You should know that not all homicides are illegal acts. The circumstances surrounding the killing are considered when trying to determine if the homicide was a crime and what type of crime it was.

What are the types of homicides?

Homicides are divided into three groups -- legal homicides, murders and manslaughter. Each group has specific elements that must be met in order for the homicide to be classified in that group. When the classification of a homicide is made, that classification is used in the criminal justice system. In some cases, a homicide might lead to civil lawsuit, but that doesn't have any impact on the criminal case.

What is a legal homicide?

Legal homicide means that the killing didn't run afoul of any laws. You might hear these referred to as justified homicide. Homicides that were committed to protect one's self or another from a violent act, such as a rape, would be considered a legal homicide.

What is murder?

Murder is the malicious killing of another person. There are different degrees of murder that are based on the circumstances of the killing. Murders are premeditated and intentional, which means you can't accidentally murder a person.

What is manslaughter?

Manslaughter is a sort of middle ground. The killing didn't meet the criteria for a murder charge, but the circumstances didn't make the homicide justifiable. A fatal motor vehicle accident caused by a drunk driver is an example of manslaughter.

Facing homicide charges of any kind can be distressing. You are facing time in prison and other penalties if you are convicted. A defense is one way that you might be able to minimize the penalties that you face.

Source: FindLaw, "Homicide Definition," accessed May 26, 2016

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