People sometimes use words like homicide and murder as if they are synonyms. They act as if these are interchangeable terms. Some of this may come from watching popular television shows where a character is in the homicide department, or something of this nature.
But the truth is that homicide just means that someone’s life was taken. When a person is killed, it is known as a homicide. This is true if the person was accidentally killed or intentionally killed. These are very different situations, but homicide will describe them both. Murder would not necessarily fit in all cases.
Murder and manslaughter
For instance, there’s a major difference between murder charges and manslaughter charges. Someone who premeditated the event and planned it out could be charged with first-degree murder. Someone who was simply reckless or negligent and caused a death could be charged with manslaughter.
Both of these individuals would have taken someone else’s life, in these hypothetical situations, but the fact that one person had the intent to do it makes that a much more serious charge. This is why those who are accused of murder will sometimes admit that a life was lost, but then also claim they can’t be charged with murder because there was no intent.
So, if someone says that there has “been a homicide,” don’t assume that this means a murder was committed. It could just mean that someone accidentally passed away. And if you’ve been accused of such a crime, you can see why it is so incredibly important to know the exact specifics of that accusation. Understanding the details of the charges can help you as you look into your criminal defense options.