You may have heard the terms “manslaughter” and “murder” used in criminal cases, but what exactly do they mean, and how do they differ? Both involve someone causing the death of another person, but each has different circumstances involved. In both cases, though, the victim’s death can bring about a wrongful death case from the surviving family members.
What is Manslaughter?
Under Florida Statute 782.07, manslaughter is defined as killing another human being through negligence. It can also be done purposefully, but without malice or forethought. So what exactly does this mean?
There are two types of manslaughter: voluntary and involuntary. Voluntary manslaughter is a considered of “heat of passion” crime. This means that something provokes a person to the point that they kill the other person. This may happen, for instance, when a husband comes home to find his wife in bed with another man. This may anger the husband so bad that he pulls out a gun and shoots the man.
However, not all in-the-moment killings would constitute voluntary manslaughter. The situation would have to intensely aggravate a normal person. For example, if you were walking down the street, someone bumped into you and you pulled out a gun and shot the person, you would likely be convicted of murder instead. The person likely did not mean to bump into you and there was no reason to kill him or her.
Involuntary manslaughter occurs when you kill someone unintentionally. This often occurs in car accident cases. Let’s say that you hit a woman crossing a street. In most cases, you would not be guilty of a crime, but the family of the victim could still sue you for wrongful death.
However, if you were driving in a reckless manner when the accident occurred—you were drinking and driving, for example—then you could be charged with involuntary manslaughter. In some cases, this could be considered murder, especially if you have had several DUIs in the past and continued to drink and drive.
While manslaughter is still considered a serious crime—after all, it involves the death of a human being—it is not as serious as murder and therefore comes with less harsh punishment.
What is Murder?
Under Florida Statute 782.04, murder is defined as killing another person in a premeditated fashion. This means that the person thought of a plan of action ahead of time, before the killing occurred. However, there are murder cases where the person suddenly decided to kill the victim, like the situation mentioned above where a person is killed for bumping into someone accidentally.
Most murders, however, involve a detailed plot to kill another person. The alleged murderer may plan how, when and where they will kill the person and how they will cover up the crime.
Reach Out to a Miami, Florida Personal Injury Lawyer for Help
Whether your loved one’s death was unintentional, in the heat of passion or premeditated, you are no doubt feeling grief and devastation. While nothing can bring back your loved one, it’s important to hold the at-fault party liable for his or her actions so you can find closure.
At the law offices of Dolan Dobrinsky Rosenblum, LLP, our experienced Miami wrongful death attorneys can help you if a loved one was killed through murder, manslaughter or in some other way. Request a free consultation by calling our law offices today at (786) 661-1359.