All you need to know about third-degree murder, its consequences, punishments and fines

Why would have somebody get a third-degree murder charge? The reasons may vary, but in most cases, if an individual commits a murder unintentionally, or under the influence of drug driving, then he is liable to be charged for a third-degree murder.

The regulations that govern murder and manslaughter may vary from state to state. The punishment awarded for these crimes also varies in different states of the country.

In case an individual kills another person unintentionally, he commits a third-degree murder. When an individual commits this act, he/she does it with a corrupt mind, without realizing how important a human life is. Recently, a man named ‘George Floyd’ was killed by a Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin. People started appealing that judge should reconsider this case and put it under the third-degree murder category. The police officer kneeled on Floyd’s neck and killed him.

What are the other degrees of murder?

Before we dive into details about third-degree murder, it is important to understand the first- and second-degree murders to see how much the type differs from each other.

First-degree murder

The definitive choice to kill anyone deliberately is considered as a first-degree murder. However, people tend to misinterpret felony with first-degree murder. It’s not the case.

Second-degree murder

A person who commits a second-degree murder does not premeditates or deliberates before committing the crime as it does not involve any kind of calculation. Nonetheless, the person surely intends to kill the victim and is pretty sure about the fact that his/her actions will cause severe damage, injuries, or might even kill another person.

Third-degree murder in Florida, Minnesota, and Pennsylvania


  • Definition: The unintentional, unlawful killing of a human being while committing a non-violent felony. (Except for certain drug felonies).
  • Law: Florida Statute 782.04(4)
  • Penalty: up to 15 years of imprisonment and a fine up to $10,000. It is regarded as a Level 8 offense in Florida.


  • Definition: An unintentional killing of an individual via an eminently dangerous act, or under the influence of drugs, without regards for a human life
  • Law: Minnesota Statute 609.195
  • Penalty: up to 25 years imprisonment and a fine up to $40,000


  • Definition: Any murder that is not categorized as a first- or second-degree murder
  • Law: 18.1102
  • Penalty: up to 40 years imprisonment

What is the difference between third-degree murder and manslaughter?

The charges related to manslaughter are less serious as compared to murder. It only happens when the preparator had no intention to kill and didn’t plan the act. However, they are aware of the fact that their actions might injure or even kill another person to the point where they would have avoided the killing by acting appropriately.

Manslaughter is divided into two categories:

  • Voluntary
  • Involuntary


If a murder takes place under the heat of the moment triggered by loss of emotions, or in defense of oneself or others, it is regarded as a voluntary manslaughter. This is also regarded as a first-degree murder. Unlike third-degree murder in which an individual definitely has the intent to kill but sometimes it is assumed that the person lost its cool due to emotions being provoked negatively.


Involuntary manslaughter is a crime with the least serious charges, because the killing was unintentional or accidental, due to an individual’s recklessness. One good example of involuntary killing could be an accident under the influence of drunk driving.

Defenses against a third-degree murder

Every murder charge does have a defense against it and the list includes:

  • Innocence: ‘It wasn’t me’. Sometimes, it becomes a tough battle against the jurisdiction to prove your innocence.
  • Insanity: Being mentally disabled could make you do some unforgivable deeds. It is very hard to defend the charge against killing someone while not being in the right mental state.
  • Self-defense: In self-defense, you are allowed to take action to protect yourself against any individual attack that might lead you to get injured or killed.
  • Defense of others: There is no harm in being a savior for others. There are times when a person fights to protect another person against the individual who tries to inflict an injury to the victim

If you are charged for third-degree murder, you must seek immediate assistance from an experienced criminal defense lawyer to determine what defenses you can use to avoid life-long consequences.

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