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What is the Difference Between Murder and Manslaughter?

When you are accused of killing someone, the state can charge you with manslaughter or it can charge you with murder. Both have serious penalties, but there are some key differences between the definitions of these crimes. A Des Moines criminal defense lawyer from our firm can tell you more about these charges and what to do if you are facing them.

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What is Considered Manslaughter?

Manslaughter is the lesser charge. The primary distinction between it and murder is whether or not there was malicious forethought. A manslaughter is not a crime that was planned out or contemplated for an extended period of time.

A voluntary manslaughter charge is often leveled at someone who killed someone in the heat of the moment. A fight escalates or someone is provoked, and then emotion gets the best of them. This is still a serious crime and the behavior was still unacceptable and dangerous, but there is an acknowledgment that this may have been an extraordinary situation.

You can also be charged with involuntary manslaughter. This is usually a charge leveled at drivers who act recklessly and kill pedestrians or other motorists. In Iowa, defendants convicted of involuntary manslaughter can expect to land in jail for up to five years. A voluntary manslaughter charge means up to ten years in prison.

What is Considered Murder?

A murder is planned out. The perpetrator may have laid in wait for somebody or purchased a weapon with the express purpose of using it on the victim. A second-degree murder is a class B felony punishable by up to 50 years in jail. A first-degree murder can put you in prison for the rest of your life.

How Can I Defend Myself From Manslaughter or Murder Charges?

The defensive strategy employed depends completely on the unique circumstances of your case. Some potential defenses include:

  • A case of mistaken identity
  • You were provoked into committing violence
  • There was no premeditation
  • You were acting in defense of yourself or others

Every situation is different, so your lawyer will help you figure out the best ways to poke holes in the prosecution’s case and get you acquitted.

Should I Hire My Own Lawyer?

Acting as your own defense counsel is not advisable. You will be assigned a public defender, but you may want to explore other options. Public defenders tend to have large caseloads and may not be able to give you individual attention. An attorney from our firm can help you fight these charges and answer any questions that you have about the legal process.

Schedule a Consultation

If you are facing serious charges like murder or manslaughter, you are going to want to have an experienced lawyer who can advocate on your behalf. Contact Herting Law, PLLC and schedule a consultation with our team. We can take a closer look at your case and tell you the next steps.

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