How is manslaughter different from a murder charge?

Most people do not have the intent behind their thoughts and actions in which they plan to hurt or even kill someone. The truth is, people can die in accidents or as the result of an unforeseen series of events. When a person dies suddenly or unexpectedly, the law or the family may be looking for answers as to why. Sometimes that can result in a manslaughter charge and it's important to understand how it's different from a murder charge.

The charges of manslaughter and murder are similar in that a person died and the state has taken actions against a person or party accused of being involved in that person's death. However, the greatest difference between murder and manslaughter charges is the intent behind either action. In murder, there is intent to harm like with the charge of first degree or second degree murder. However, with manslaughter charges, there is no intent to harm on behalf of the accused. However, an unintentional killing committed in the commission of an "inherently dangerous" felony is often prosecuted as first degree murder in many states.

This means that if a person committed a serious felony in connection with the person's death, that murder may be the charge instead of manslaughter even if there was no malicious intent. This is because inherently dangerous activities like DUI and OWI can easily result in a fatality. One of the top reasons that these behaviors are reprimanded so heavily today is due to the potential for loss of life. Lots of factors, including state law and the specifics surrounding an intoxicated manslaughter event, will determine if a charge is classified as manslaughter or first degree murder.

The difference may not always be clear immediately after an event of this magnitude. While the loss of life is certainly tragic, so can be the charges related to manslaughter and the havoc it can wreak on the accused and their family. There are so many things that can result due to intoxicated driving. A manslaughter charge is one of them.

Source: criminal.findlaw.com, "Involuntary Manslaughter Overview," Accessed March 5, 2018

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