There is no charge that carries the potential for a lengthy jail sentence lasting the rest of your life, such as homicide. Murder and Manslaughter are amongst the most serious charges that can be laid against a person with consequences that often entail the denial of bail, a wait of several years for trial and if convicted, a lengthy or even a life sentence in a penitentiary. Murder is further broken down into first and second degree, each carrying a greater degree of culpability and jail time with it.
First degree murder refers to murder that is planned and deliberate, which carries with it a lengthy jail sentence, along with huge amounts of legal fees. Any amount of planning or desire is enough to be considered first degree, and murders which take place in conjunction with other criminal offences, or the murder of a police officer, are both considered first degree murder. Any murder which doesn’t fall under the category of first degree murder immediately becomes second degree murder, unless it’s not a murder at all. In this case, the charges laid are those of manslaughter. If a homicide takes place without any intent to commit murder on the part of the offender, it is categorized as a manslaughter. Such homicides may arise through criminal negligence or unlawful acts, which on their own would not have been as harmful, but ultimately resulted in a person’s death.
It is absolutely essential to have experienced, knowledgeable legal counsel on your side from the moment you are charged.
The threshold for cases of manslaughter is what the law refers to as the ‘reasonable person’. For manslaughter by criminal negligence, the court seeks to determine whether the actions of the offender were outside the realms of what the reasonable person would do, and whether they could have foreseen death or bodily harm as a consequence of their actions. Cases in which the offender should have acted, but didn’t (such as certain child death cases) can also result in charges of manslaughter.