Breaking Down the Degrees of Murder and Manslaughter

People often use the terms homicide, manslaughter, and murder interchangeably, but there are distinct differences. Manslaughter and murder fall under the umbrella of homicide, which is defined as the act of one person killing another person. Homicide may not always be a crime; however, manslaughter and murder are considered unlawful homicides.

If you or a loved one has been charged with murder or manslaughter, it’s critical that you understand the difference between the two and consult a manslaughter defense attorney in Tampa.

Degrees of Murder

Murder is killing with malice aforethought; in other words, it is a premeditated and deliberate intention to kill. Murder can be in the first degree or second degree.

First Degree Murder is the most serious type of homicide that can be committed in several ways:

  • A premeditated killing is one that is planned (premeditated) and committed willfully.
  • A felony murder is one that occurs during the course of a dangerous felony or the attempt of a dangerous felony. For example, a person killed during the act of trafficking, arson, sexual battery, or kidnapping.
  • A murder that occurs during a drug dealing offense or unlawful distribution of controlled substances.

Second Degree Murder is an intentional killing, yet without premeditation. This type of murder means that a person did not plan to murder someone; however, the murder occurred in the heat of passion with depraved indifference to human life. An example of this would be murdering a spouse caught in the act of cheating.

Degrees of Manslaughter

Manslaughter is the act of killing without malice aforethought. There are three types of manslaughter.

Voluntary Manslaughter is the unlawful killing of another person without premeditation. It is the type of killing where a person is provoked by a circumstance that causes them to react unreasonably due to the mental or emotional disturbance of a specific event. Like second degree murder, this is considered a crime of passion. An example of this would be killing someone for molesting a child.

Involuntary Manslaughter is also the unlawful killing of another person without premeditation; however, the murder is due to recklessness, criminal activity, or negligence. An example of this would be killing someone while texting and driving.

DUI Manslaughter is the unlawful direct or indirect killing of another person while driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Punishments for homicide vary based on the degree and circumstances surrounding the case. If you have been implicated in a homicide case, it is imperative that you speak with a knowledgeable manslaughter defense lawyer in Tampa for legal advice.

For a free consultation with an experienced manslaughter defense lawyer in Tampa, please contact The Rickman Law Firm today.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.

Case Results

Defendant Found Not Guilty of Capital Murder and Aggravated Child Abuse

The defendant was charged with Capital First Degree Murder Aggravated Child Abuse and Aggravated Manslaughter in relation to the death of a child who was in her and her boyfriend’s care.  After a two week
Show More


The Client was arrested and charged with Possession of Cocaine after being stopped by law enforcement for speeding and upon being stopped, the law enforcement officer conducted a search of the Client’s vehicle where they
Show More


The Client was contacted by law enforcement and Child Protective Services for allegations of Child Abuse. The Client contacted the Rickman Law Firm and the firm immediately contacted the detective working up the investigation to
Show More