“Homicide” is the killing of another human. It is a broad term that covers murder, manslaughter (voluntary and involuntary), and specific death-related charges like vehicular homicide, all of which are further defined according to the perpetrator’s state of mind and the specific circumstances surrounding the death.
Murder is considered perhaps the most significant and well-known type of homicide. In Georgia, murder is committed when an individual “unlawfully and with malice aforethought. . . causes the death of another human being.” O.C.G.A. § 16-5-1. The state of Georgia does not categorize murder into multiple degrees, although there does exist a specific charge of felony murder which is independent from the charge of ‘murder’, and which encompasses any homicide occurring during the commission of a felony (if, for instance, an innocent bystander was shot and killed during an armed robbery, the death would be considered a murder, and the charge ‘felony murder’). Any murder in Georgia is punishable by life imprisonment. In extreme cases, the perpetrator can be sentenced to life without parole or even death.
Manslaughter, on the other hand, is defined as a type of voluntary or involuntary homicide. Voluntary manslaughter occurs when an individual takes the life of another “as the result of a sudden, violent, and irresistible passion resulting from serious provocation”. O.C.G.A. §16-5-2. This is a crime committed in a sudden fit of rage or “in the heat of passion.” There is a component of provocation involved in voluntary manslaughter; when, for instance, an enraged spouse kills his or her partner for committing adultery, the adultery may be considered the cause of provocation. Voluntary manslaughter is punished by no less than one year, nor more than twenty years in prison.
Involuntary manslaughter is the unintentional taking of another’s life, either by committing a misdemeanor crime (a punch thrown in anger that otherwise might constitute a misdemeanor battery can be charged as involuntary manslaughter if the victim dies), or by the commission of an otherwise lawful act in an unlawful manner. A death that results from an incident with an automobile, on the other hand, may be classified as either first degree vehicular homicide (a death that results from the crimes of driving under the influence, reckless driving, unlawfully passing a school bus, fleeing or attempting to elude a police officer, or hit and run) or second degree vehicular homicide (a death that results from any other traffic violation), and punished as a felony or misdemeanor, depending on the specific crime and circumstances. Punishment for the various forms of homicide range from one year in prison to ten, fifteen, or twenty years, an in fact can include life in prison or the death penalty for murder.
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Homicide-related charges are some of the most serious criminal charges any individual can face. Seek out the assistance of attorneys who know the law and have worked to assist clients with problems like this before. Call Kilgo Law, we can help.