Many times people make the mistake of thinking murder and manslaughter are the same crimes, but there are major differences between the two. It’s useful to understand the differences between manslaughter and murder because they weigh heavily on the potential sentences a defendant can face.
We’re going to take a closer look at what these differences are and the punishments they bring along with them.
Manslaughter vs. Murder in North Carolina
The main distinction between manslaughter and murder is the intent to harm someone. With murder, someone had an intent to kill the victim versus manslaughter where the defendant unintentionally killed the victim. Since there was no intent to harm someone, the charge is less serious than first or second-degree murder. But, it can still carry a hefty penalty.
Beyond that major difference, there are also different types of manslaughter and murder charges in North Carolina.
Types of Manslaughter Charges
In North Carolina, there are three basic types of manslaughter charges:
This is sometimes referred to as “passion killing” when someone is killed in the heat of the moment. The circumstances that lead up to the crime are those that would cause someone who is otherwise reasonable to become so emotionally or mentally disturbed that they kill another person.
This is the unintentional killing of another person that was caused directly by someone’s actions. It can sometimes be difficult to distinguish between involuntary manslaughter and second-degree murder because an accidental killing as a result of extreme recklessness can be considered second-degree murder.
When someone’s negligent driving leads to another person’s death, this is referred to as vehicular manslaughter. Vehicular manslaughter charges can result from texting, driving recklessly, speeding, or being under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Types of Murder Charges
When someone is charged with murder they will likely face either first-degree or second-degree murder charges.
This is when a person planned to kill another person and followed through on it. This is premeditated and deliberate. If someone kills someone else during a felony crime, like a robbery or rape, they would be charged with first-degree murder. Anyone who is an accomplice to a felony murder would also face first-degree murder charges.
Second-degree murder is not pre-meditated. When someone is so reckless that it results in the death of another person, this is considered second-degree murder. If someone intended to just hurt someone but it ended in their death, they would likely face second-degree murder charges.
Punishments for Manslaughter
The punishments for manslaughter differ depending on the charges. These are the typical sentences someone can face when charged.
This is considered a Class D felony and carries a prison sentence of up to 51 months
Involuntary or Vehicular Manslaughter
These are Class F felonies that carry a prison sentence of up to 13 months.
Punishments for Murder
Since a murder charge is more serious than a manslaughter charge, the punishments are more severe.
First-degree or Felony Murder
This is the most serious crime. As a Class A felony, it carries a sentence of life in prison without parole or the death penalty
This can be a Class B1 or B2 felony. Class B1 felonies have a prison sentence of 192 months to life in prison while class B2 has a sentence of 125 months in prison.
Consult with a Criminal Lawyer About the Differences Between Manslaughter and Murder
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