Although both charges involve taking human life, the primary difference between murder and manslaughter boils down to planning and/or intent. For example, if you take a life because you were driving under the influence but had no intent to harm another, you will likely be charged with vehicular manslaughter. However, if you intended to use your car as a means of killing someone, you would likely be charged with murder.
Categorizations of Manslaughter
In Florida, as in many states, there is not one singular charge of “manslaughter.” Manslaughter is broken into several categories that cover a vast array of unplanned, reckless, or accidental deaths. These categories include:
- Voluntary Manslaughter
- Involuntary Manslaughter
- Aggravated Manslaughter
- Vehicular Manslaughter
Voluntary manslaughter is a charge that tows the line between murder and manslaughter because if you are charged with voluntary manslaughter, it means that you actually intended to kill another person. The difference is that, with voluntary manslaughter, there is normally no pre-meditation, meaning that you did not plan to kill another but it happened in the “heat of passion” or you were provoked to do so.
Involuntary manslaughter occurs when you had no intent to kill another, but you caused their death through your negligence. Vehicular manslaughter is categorized as involuntary manslaughter if your reckless or drunk driving resulted in an accident that caused another’s death.
Lastly, aggravated manslaughter is defined by Florida law as negligently causing the death of an elderly or disabled adult, child, or police officer, paramedic, or other emergency personnel during the course of their duties.
Florida Punishments for Murder and Manslaughter
In Florida, murder is punishable as either a first or second-degree offense. Murder in the first degree, which generally contains certain aggravating factors, is a capital felony punishable by death. Manslaughter can also be categorized by classes. Voluntary and Involuntary manslaughter are generally categorized as Class 2 felonies and carry a maximum of 15 years imprisonment; however, aggravated manslaughter is categorized as a class 1 felony, and is punishable by a maximum of 30 years imprisonment.
You Have the Right to a Criminal Defense Attorney: Contact One Today
If you have been charged with murder, voluntary manslaughter, or involuntary manslaughter, it is essential that you contact an experienced criminal defense attorney in the St. Petersburg/Tampa Bay area today. The Khonsari Law Group understands the intricate differences between murder and manslaughter and can work to determine if your charges should be reduced to a lower classification. This can both literally and figuratively be a life or death decision. If you are located in the greater St. Petersburg area, contact us immediately for a free, no-risk consultation at (727) 269-5300.