The Legal Differences between Murder and Homicide

The terms murder and homicide are frequently interchanged; however, there is a difference between the two.  Homicide is the killing of one person by another.  Murder is a form of criminal homicide, where the perpetrator intended to kill the other person, sometimes with premeditation (a plan to kill).  Manslaughter is another type of criminal homicide.

Homicides are criminal, excusable, or justifiable.   A criminal homicide is unjustifiable, with consequences being severe.  An excusable or justifiable homicide is one without criminal intent to kill someone.  Examples of excusable or justifiable homicide would be someone killing someone else as a means of self defense, or defending another person, or law enforcement who kills someone in the line of duty.

Murders are classified in different degrees depending on the gravity of the crime and the intent of the perpetrator.  The classifications of murder are first degree, second degree, and third degree or manslaughter.  Some states do not use the classification of third degree murder.

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