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Is manslaughter the same as murder in California?

On Behalf of | Sep 1, 2023 | Criminal Defense |

In all states, causing the death of another is considered a severe criminal offense. If charged with such a crime, it serves your interest to understand the nature of the specific charges filed against you.

Learning the differences between murder and manslaughter may improve your criminal defense.

What does murder mean?

The crime of murder is a severe felony that involves the element of intent or malicious intent. To face murder charges, the prosecution needs evidence proving you deliberately killed another. For example, if the police find evidence in your car or home suggesting you planned a death, you will likely face murder charges.

In California, the penalties for murder usually depend on the circumstances of each case. However, defendants could face up to life in prison upon a conviction.

What does manslaughter mean?

Manslaughter is treated less severely in most situations because it lacks the element of intent, but make no mistake, it is still a serious offense. In California, manslaughter can be voluntary, involuntary or vehicular, each posing potentially severe consequences if convicted.

If the prosecution lacks sufficient evidence to prove you planned or meant to kill someone, you may face the lesser charge of manslaughter. In vehicular manslaughter cases, a prosecutor must show that the defendant acted with gross negligence, causing the death of another.

Knowing the distinction between manslaughter and murder is critical because of their different potential penalties. Legal guidance can help you understand your charges and create a defense strategy tailored to your unique circumstances.