Murder and Manslaughter: Key Differences and Serious Penalties You Face

Murder and Manslaughter ChargesIf you are being charged with murder or manslaughter in North Carolina, you could literally be in a fight for your life. You may be facing life in prison or death by lethal injection. If you have been arrested for any of these offenses, you must do everything you can to fight back to get the charges dismissed or at least reduced to a lesser offense with less severe penalties. You have one chance to do this right, and you will need the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney to raise all possible defenses—which you can have even if you are guilty.

Murder Charges That You Could Be Charged With Committing

In North Carolina, murder is the intentional killing of a human being that is considered unlawful and that is committed with the intent to harm or kill the person or with reckless disregard of his life. There are several types of murder offenses that you could be charged with:

  • First-degree murder. First-degree murder is a premeditated killing, which means that it involved planning, and was done deliberately or was a felony murder.
  • Felony murder. Felony murder is a type of first-degree murder where a person is killed when a felony crime is being committed. An accomplice who did not commit the killing or a person who accidentally shot someone while committing a felony could be charged with felony murder. Arson, rape, sex crimes, robbery, burglary, and kidnapping are some felony crimes that could result in felony murder charges if a person is killed.
  • Second-degree murder. This type of murder does not involve premeditation, but does involve reckless disregard for another person’s life.

Types of Manslaughter Charges in North Carolina

The key difference between murder and manslaughter charges in North Carolina is that manslaughter is not committed with malicious intent. As with murder, there is more than one type of manslaughter crime:

  • Voluntary manslaughter. Voluntary manslaughter is the killing of a person with intent in circumstances where a reasonable person would become emotionally or mentally disturbed. A person could be charged with this crime if he committed a murder in the heat of passion or in an imperfect self-defense situation where he believed force was necessary to defend himself, but it was not objectively reasonable.
  • Involuntary manslaughter. This crime involves an unintentional murder committed without intent and not in the heat of passion. You could be charged with this offense if you were criminally negligent, engaged in reckless conduct, or were committing a non-felony crime at the time of the killing.
  • Vehicular manslaughter. You could be charged with vehicular manslaughter if you killed someone with a vehicle through your negligence or reckless actions.

Penalties for Murder and Manslaughter in North Carolina

The severity of the punishment that you face will be based on the circumstances of the crime. Aggravating factors, such an especially heinous crime, will increase your sentence, and mitigating factors can reduce the severity of your penalty. Here are the possible sentences for murder and manslaughter:

  • First-degree murder. Class A felony punishable by life in prison with no parole or death by lethal injection
  • Second-degree murder. Class B1 felony with a prison sentence of 192 months to life in prison or Class B2 felony with a minimum sentence of 125 months in prison
  • Felony murder. Class A felony with the same penalties as first-degree murder
  • Voluntary manslaughter. Class D felony with a minimum sentence of 51 months in prison
  • Involuntary manslaughter. Class F felony with a 13-month minimum prison sentence
  • Vehicular manslaughter. Class F felony with the same penalties as involuntary manslaughter

Let Us Help You Build a Strong Defense to the Murder or Manslaughter Charges You Face

If you have been charged with murder or manslaughter, it is critical that you contact an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to investigate the crime and build a strong defense to the charges you face. Even if you are guilty, you could have constitutional or other defenses that could result in the charges being dismissed or reduced to a lesser offense. To learn about our extensive experience helping clients facing serious criminal charges and what you can expect in your criminal case, call our office today to schedule your free consultation.

 

C. Todd Browning
Charlotte Criminal Defense and DWI Lawyer