When individuals face homicide accusations or charges in Georgia, they may not understand the differences between murder and manslaughter and what prosecutors need to prove.
Although every jurisdiction is different when it comes to what needs to be proven to convict on charges of homicide, in Georgia, if the homicide in question was not done with malice aforethought or during the commission of a felony, then a person will likely face charges of manslaughter.
There are two main classifications of manslaughter, voluntary and involuntary manslaughter, and each carry different penalties.
In Georgia there are two kinds of involuntary manslaughter, namely an unintentional killing during the commission of an unlawful act and an unintentional killing during a lawful act.
A person commits involuntary manslaughter in the commission of an unlawful act when they cause the death of another without any intention to do so during the commission of any unlawful act that is not a felony. A person may be sentenced for this crime from 1 to 10 years in prison.
A person commits involuntary manslaughter in the commission of a lawful act when he causes the death of another without any intention to do so when committing a lawful act in an unlawful manner that is likely to cause death or great bodily harm. A person convicted of this crime may be sentenced as a misdemeanor.
With voluntary manslaughter, an individual does actually intend to kill another person. Voluntary manslaughter is not premeditated or planned. Rather the killing is done in the “heat of passion” or solely as the result of a sudden, violent, and irresistible passion resulting from serious provocation sufficient to excite such passion in a reasonable person. Voluntary manslaughter is punishable by a sentence between 1 and 20 years in prison. A person who returns home from work, finds their spouse intimately involved with another person, and acts out is one example of a killing involving heat of passion.
There are two types of Vehicular Homicide. Vehicular homicide in the first degree is committed when a person is driving and acts without malice aforethought while overtaking a school bus, engaged in reckless driving, DUI, fleeing or attempting to elude a police officer or leaves the scene of an accident. Vehicular Homicide in the first degree is punishable by a sentence between 3 and 15 years in prison.
Second degree vehicular homicide occurs when a person causes the death of another without an intention to do so by violating a traffic law not listed in Vehicular Homicide in the first degree. Second degree vehicular homicide is a misdemeanor.
Charges involving murder in Georgia involve both intent and malice. Like manslaughter, there are different classifications of murder.
Malice murder is when a person acts with malice aforethought and causes the death of another person. An individual will likely face malice murder charges if there is no considerable provocation and where the circumstances show an abandoned and malignant heart.
Felony murder occurs when an individual is committing a felony (such as robbery) and someone dies. A person does not have to intend to kill another person to be guilty of felony murder.
Second-degree murder occurs when a person causes the death of another while in the commission of cruelty to children in the second degree. Actual malice is not required for this charge of murder.
Penalties for malice murder and felony murder in the state of Georgia vary from life in prison to death for capital first-degree murder. The penalty for second-degree murder is not less than 10 years and not more than 30 years to serve in prison.
It’s important to know that, even if a killing occurred, it may be justified. Defense like self-defense have and can acquit a person of manslaughter or murder charges.