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Did you know that you can be charged with a variety of different crimes after the death of another person? Although we most often think of homicide as the criminal charge associated with this type of violent crime, other options also exist. In addition to the traditional murder charge, legal homicide and manslaughter exist as charges that may be brought by Baltimore-area prosecutors. Knowing the different definitions of murder and homicide may help you mount a more effective criminal defense against the charges you are facing.

First, let us discuss murder. This is the most serious type of criminal homicide. First-degree murder is generally categorized as intentional and premeditated. What do we mean by premeditated? In these cases, the defendant is accused of making a plan to kill the person; even a short-term plan may suffice. Lesser charges are generally brought for those who are thought to have committed the crime “in the heat of passion” and without prior planning.

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With that in mind, would you believe that there is actually a classification for “legal homicide”? Justified homicide provisions include rules for killing in self-defense or in defense of another person. In some instances, justified homicide may be the appropriate criminal defense for someone who is accused of murder.

Finally, manslaughter consists of an illegal killing that does not warrant the more severe murder charge. Involuntary manslaughter occurs when someone did not intentionally kill the victim, but instead was criminally reckless or negligent. For example, involuntary manslaughter may arise when an intoxicated driver causes a fatal accident. Voluntary manslaughter rules differ by state, with some characterizing those “heat of passion” crimes as murder.

Ultimately, defendants facing homicide charges of any type need the assistance of an experienced defense attorney. These professionals can provide advice pertaining to homicide, manslaughter, and self-defense situations. The penalties for manslaughter and murder are always serious, and they may have a massive impact on your personal and professional future.