Murder vs. Manslaughter | What is the Difference?

In the state of South Carolina, both murder and manslaughter are considered homicides that occur when you unlawfully cause the death of another. Differentiating between the two crimes can be difficult, but the main distinguisher is the state of mind you were in at the time of the crime. However, it is important to note the difference, because the charges for each crime vary significantly. Follow along to see how an experienced Chesterfield County violent crime lawyer at The Cockrell Law Firm, P.C., can help you approach your case, and either reduce or eliminate your penalties altogether.

How does South Carolina define murder?

While some states differentiate between degrees of murder, South Carolina does not. Instead, the state’s homicide law broadly defines murder as a killing with malice aforethought. This means that you either intended to kill the victim, or had made a conscious decision to do so, or you acted with reckless indifference for human life.

Murder is considered an exempted felony in South Carolina, which is punishable by a minimum prison term of 30 years but can be severe as life in prison or the death penalty.

Murder is the most serious crime you can commit. However, depending on the circumstances, there may be a chance to receive the lower charge of manslaughter. This is why it is critical that you retain the services of a knowledgeable Chesterfield criminal defense lawyer who has experience with negotiating such charges.

How does South Carolina define manslaughter?

Even though it is still considered a serious crime, the state of South Carolina views manslaughter as a lesser offense than murder. The state’s law defines manslaughter as the killing of another person, but without the malice necessary for murder. Usually, it involves the causation of death in the heat of passion after experiencing a legally sufficient provocation.

Manslaughter is considered a Class A felony in South Carolina, punishable by a minimum sentence of two years in prison and a maximum of 30 years in prison without parole.

What is involuntary manslaughter?

Involuntary manslaughter is considered a lesser crime than voluntary manslaughter. It is defined as the causation of death while engaged in criminally negligent conduct that shows a reckless disregard for the safety of others. Such conduct may not be illegal itself, however.

Involuntary manslaughter is still considered a serious crime, and it is punishable by up to five years in prison.


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