As shown with the plethora of 'law and order' type tv shows out there, there is more than just one type of murder charge one may face, and knowing the difference between all of them can get pretty confusing. This blog seeks to explain the basic differences between all of them.
It goes without saying that murder (homicide) charges are serious. All are felonies. Homicide is defined by RCW 9A.32.10 as the killing of a human being by (1) murder, (2) homicide by abuse, (3) manslaughter, (4) excusable homicide, or (5) justifiable homicide.
Involuntary Manslaughter (Manslaughter in the 1st and 2ns degree)
The difference between manslaughter and homicide is that with manslaughter, there was never an intent to kill someone. Rather, a death resulted from some other negligent action such as reckless driving, or foolish behavior. In order to be charged with manslaughter in the 1st degree, you must have "recklessly" caused the death of another person. See RCW 9A.32.060. It is a Class A felony. In order to be charged with manslaughter in the 2nd degree, you commit an act of "criminal negligence" which caused the death of another person. See RCW 9A.32.070. This is a Class B felony.
1st Degree Murder
A person is guilty of 1st degree murder when s/he pre-meditated the intent to cause the death of someone else.See RCW 9A.32.030. The key is that there must have been pre-meditation in order to be charged with this crime. RCW 9A.32.030 also includes rape, burglary, arson, and kidnapping when committing the killing. Murder in the 1st degree is a Class A felony punishable by life imprisonment. See RCW 9A.32.040.
2nd Degree Murder
A person is guilty of 2nd degree murder when s/he kills someone with intent, but without premeditation. See RCW 9A.32.050. The statute also includes killings that occur in the course of committing a felony, such as a felony assault. This is also known as the felony-murder rule (under the common law, a death that occurs as the result of an intentional felony is a murder even if one did not intend on killing someone). 2nd degree murder is a Class A felony.
Homicide by Abuse
A person is guilty of this crime if s/he kills someone through manifesting "an extreme indifference to human life" towards a vulnerable person such as elder or child. See RCW 9A.32.055. This could include torturing someone with a mental disability, for example, to death. It is also a Class A felony.
Vehicular Manslaughter /Vehicular Manslaughter with DUI
One does not have to be drunk in order to operate a motor vehicle and kill someone (vehicular homicide). However, if you kill someone while committing a DUI, you will face up to $50,000 in fines and life imprisonment, because it is essentially two felonies in one act.
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The Law Offices of Steve Karimi is dedicated to protecting the freedom, constitutional rights, criminal record, and reputation of each of his clients. As a former prosecutor for the state of Washington, he will handle everything in your case with detail and zeal, including all steps necessary to build your defense, and to keep you out of jail. Mr. Karimi handles all misdemeanor and felony cases including charges of murder, attempted murder, vehicular homicide, and manslaughter. Murder charges are no joke. Contact Snohomish and King County criminal defense attorney Steve Karimi today. We look forward to providing you with superior criminal defense representation.
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