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Understanding the difference between murder and manslaughter

If you are a suspect in another person’s death, you might be wondering what to expect. There are a number of different scenarios that might play out, and the most important factor will be what criminal charges you are facing. Many people are unfamiliar with the differences between manslaughter and murder, but which charge you face will have a major impact on the potential legal consequences.

The following are definitions you should be familiar with as well as the contrasting legal implications that each of these charges may incur. No matter what charges you face, you should consider investing in legal representation and counsel to help you navigate the criminal justice system.

Definition of murder

The primary defining factor in a murder case is the supposed presence of intent, malice or premeditation. If law enforcement alleges that you took another person’s life with any of these criteria, you will likely be facing a murder charge. In Alaska, you might face charges of either a first- or second-degree violation. According to the State of Alaska Department of Corrections, first-degree murder is the most severe homicide charge you can possibly face.

Definition of manslaughter

Manslaughter, unlike murder, typically implies a lack of intent or premeditation. This usually involves a charge of voluntary or involuntary. Police often apply the latter to so-called crimes of passion in which the suspect did not plan the homicide or that it may be the result of mental incapacitation. The former — involuntary manslaughter — might refer to a death that was not the result of gross negligence or malice. 

Legal implications of each

There is a range of legal consequences one might face for first- and second-degree murder charges or voluntary and involuntary manslaughter charges. The result will depend on any prior convictions you might have as well as the evidence in the case. Regardless, acquiring legal counsel may be a wise step towards building an effective defense.

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