Both manslaughter and murder involve the death of another person in Florida. However, there are many differences between the two charges.
Those differences can have a profound effect on life after conviction.
Element of intent
Encyclopedia.com states the biggest “difference between murder and manslaughter is the element of intent.” Manslaughter is often a crime of passion versus the intent to harm another that comes with a murder conviction.
Voluntary manslaughter is a passion crime that requires more than verbal evidence to prove that you had enough provocation to lose control. On the other hand, involuntary manslaughter happens when someone dies whom you had a legal duty to protect and safeguard from harm. Vehicular manslaughter is a common charge after someone dies in a car accident where you caused the accident.
The court defines murder in degrees with a first-degree charge having more severe penalties than a third-degree charge. The degree correlates with the level of malice and intent of the convicted to harm the homicide victim.
Beyond reasonable doubt
Whether charged with manslaughter or murder, the court requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt that you committed the crime. A legal justification, defense or excuse can create doubt about your intent to harm another.
The local homicide department handles both manslaughter and murder cases. The mental state of the accused plays a key role in how they charge you upon arrest.
Regardless of whether they charge you with manslaughter or murder, you retain your Miranda rights. You can remain silent and obtain legal counsel, both of which can help your case in court.