To learn about the difference between murder and manslaughter in Georgia, read on and reach out to our skilled Cobb County criminal defense lawyer.
How does the state of Georgia define murder?
In Georgia, murder is the most severe type of criminal homicide and one of the most serious criminal charges you can face. If you are convicted of murder, you will be sentenced to life in prison. The only question at sentencing will be whether you will be qualified to receive parole, will serve your whole life, or if the state will request the death penalty.
In order to be charged with murder, the prosecutor in your case will need to demonstrate that you illegally killed another person with “malice aforethought.” That malicious mental state can include the following:
- Direct intent to kill another person
- “Depraved disregard” for human life (i.e. shooting into a house or driving into a crowd)
- Committing a different felony (i.e. a robbery that resulted in a person’s death)
- Malice can be communicated or implied. The prosecutor does not have to have a recording of you saying, “I’m going to kill him” to prove malice. In many instances, the jury will be asked to presume you meant to cause the person’s death if you were not clearly provoked or where your actions suggest a reckless disregard for human life.
What is manslaughter?
Manslaughter charges may not be as severe as murder, but they should still be taken seriously. There are two forms of manslaughter in Georgia. Each carries its own standards of proof and sentencing requirements.
- Voluntary manslaughter refers to when a person deliberately kills another person as a result of sudden and violent passion. These “heat of the moment” killings are established on serious provocation, the kind that would push a reasonable person to take drastic action. A common example of this would be discovering your spouse committing adultery. The killing must occur right away before the person has had an opportunity to cool off. If the prosecutor can show that you went away and came back later after you had time to think about what you were doing, it may be deemed revenge rather than passion, and you could face a murder sentence. However, where there is proof of provocation results in a voluntary manslaughter conviction, your sentence can range from 1 – 20 years in prison, depending on your criminal history and the circumstances of the crime.
- Involuntary manslaughter is known as accidental but negligent homicide. In this case, the prosecutor does not need to demonstrate you intended anyone harm. However, your illegal or reckless actions resulted in someone’s death. A common instance of involuntary manslaughter is when drunk driving results in a fatal car accident. Depending on the events surrounding the death, involuntary manslaughter can be assessed as either a felony or a misdemeanor. You may face less than a year in jail or up to 20 years in prison.
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