Taking another person’s life is an action that can have a huge impact on your future. If you are taken to the homicide division of the police department, you should understand what comprises homicide. This can help you as you plan your defense against the charges levied in the case.

Not all homicides are murders and not all homicides are illegal killings. Instead, homicide include justifiable homicide, manslaughter and murder. The circumstances of the killing is what determines which classification a case falls into.

Typically, murder charges are reserved for the worst killings. These include those that are premeditated or those that included an intention to kill. These are very serious charges that can lead to considerable terms of incarceration, including life in prison. Murder charges are divided into degrees with first-degree being the most serious.

Manslaughter charges are one step down from murder. These kills are illegal, but they aren’t planned or intentional. Manslaughter charges are divided into voluntary and involuntary. Drunk driving that leads to a fatal accident might lead to a manslaughter charge.

Each type of homicide charge has specific criteria that must be present for the charge to be valid. If any element isn’t present, the charge may have to be changed to a more suitable charge.

If you are facing murder or manslaughter charges, you need have your case evaluated. This can be a complex undertaking that takes considerable time. Once you have evaluated the case, you can work on determining what defense strategy you are going to use. This decision is one that you must make only after you have thought about the possible implications of each option you have.

Source: FindLaw, “Homicide Definition,” accessed Feb. 10, 2017