What is the difference between manslaughter and murder?

In legal diction, homicide is categorized in two terms: murder and manslaughter. Both crimes involve killing an innocent human being. However, the motives behind the two may be quite different from each other, and both of them may result in different consequences. To know the difference between manslaughter and murder, read further.

What is the difference between manslaughter and murder?


What is murder?

In the legal dictionary, murder is defined as: an intentional act to kill another person with malice aforethought. This can be implied malice, i.e., an act being continued regardless of knowing that it can result in killing the other person. Or, express malice, i.e., the killer had already planned to kill the other person.

What is Manslaughter?

In legal terms, manslaughter means an unintentional act without malice aforethought resulting in the death of someone.

There are two categories of manslaughter: voluntary and involuntary. Voluntary manslaughter occurs when a person commits a homicide either in the heat of the action, or for one’s defense. On the other hand, involuntary manslaughter may occur due to criminal negligence or recklessness of the attacker.

As of now, you must have a clear idea of what is the difference between manslaughter and murder. Let’s have a look at what type of legal consequences one has to face in either case.

Legal actions against manslaughter vs. murder

Before we proceed with what consequences the alleged criminal may face, know that in either case, the convict will need a legal prosecutor to protect you in the court of law.


As mentioned earlier, both homicide and manslaughter are different from each other, and both have different legal consequences. In most cases, the person who has committed homicide or manslaughter only gets a prison sentence. Whereas murder can result in both, prison sentences and the death penalty in severe cases.

However, the prison sentence may differ according to the intensity of the crime. To better understand this, read the proceeding paragraphs.

Types of murder

Murder is further divided into first-degree murder and second-degree murder.

First-degree murder

The first-degree murder occurs when someone attacks the victim with a pure intention to kill him. To prove first-degree murder, the prosecutor must submit all the pieces of evidence that resonate with the statement. Moreover, another type of first-degree murder is felony murder. It means that there was no intention to kill the victim, but he died during a criminal offense. However, committing a felony is equal to the intention of murder.

Second- degree murder

The second-degree murder occurs when the offender kills someone without an intention to commit the act. It means, the occurrence of a victim’s death was accidental, but it will still be a crime. If you were confused, this example will explain it better: if someone is having a verbal argument or a physical fight, and during this event, one person dies, the other person would be charged for second-degree murder. The reason being, that the other person knew it can harm the victim or may even cause death, but they still chose to continue with his action.

If we look at both types of murders, one is severe and the other one is accidental. However, it depends on the court, what the sentence it will sanction to the convicted attacker. As of now, we have explained both types of murders. Now let’s explain types of manslaughter.

Types of manslaughter

There are two degrees of manslaughter as stated in the definition above, voluntary manslaughter and involuntary manslaughter.


Voluntary manslaughter

There is a very fine line between second-degree murder and voluntary manslaughter. However, second-degree murder means that the attacker was fully aware that his/her action might end the victim’s life. On the other hand, voluntary manslaughter is the result of provoking someone to an extent that one may end up reacting in a way, which may kill the provoker.

Involuntary manslaughter

An individual is convicted of involuntary manslaughter, when he kills someone accidentally, without any intention to harm or to kill the victim. If a passenger dies due to an accident, when the driver was busy attending a call while driving, this event will be categorized as involuntary manslaughter.

Bottom line

In this article, we have explained the difference between manslaughter and murder in detail. Moreover, we have also listed down each one’s types as well, which will give you an idea about the intensity of criminal activity that falls under each category. We hope that you find the information, we have provided in this article, useful.

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