The actors on TV police dramas say words like murder, homicide and manslaughter all the time. You figure those terms all describe one individual taking the life of another, so they must mean the same thing, right?

Actually, they do not. Each is unique in key ways. There are specific distinctions that distinguish one crime from the other. It can be worthwhile to examine what the differences are.

How is each crime defined?             

Murder is a subset of the broad category of homicide “that involves both malicious intent and prior thought,” states one expert. Manslaughter is “an act that recklessly causes the death of another.” The same expert also emphasizes: “All murders are homicides, but not all homicides are murders.”

So, for example, if you accidentally but recklessly hit someone with your car while they are walking across a street and they die, it could be manslaughter but not murder. There was no ill will on your part in what happened. Furthermore, it was spontaneous, not planned beforehand.

To be classified as murder, you need to have malice and premeditation. If jealous husband schemes to kill his wife because she is unfaithful and he succeeds in doing so, that is likely to be considered murder.

Did you know there are two types of malice?

Malice is an important aspect of murder. There are two kinds of malice. When a person makes it known that they are going to kill someone, that is expressed malice. When an individual commits murder and malice was not specifically stated, it is deemed implied.

If you are charged with either murder or manslaughter 

Marshal the facts and have a professional on your side to build a defense. Be mindful of your rights and always ensure that they are not violated.