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What's the Difference Between Manslaughter & Murder?

When a person dies at the hands of another, it is considered a homicide in the eyes of the law. In the state of Nevada, criminal homicide charges are divided into two categories: murder and manslaughter. While both of these charges involve the unlawful killing of another human being, these offenses are very different and can expose a defendant to substantially different penalties.

Murder in Nevada

Murder is defined as the unlawful killing of a human being with “malice aforethought,” or a premeditated or extremely reckless killing. There are two different types of murder: first degree and second degree. First degree murder is a deliberate act of killing or an unintentional killing that occurs during the commission of a felony, such as burglary, arson, robbery, or rape. Second degree murder, on the other hand, is an unintentional homicide resulting from extremely reckless behavior in which the death was a foreseeable result.

First degree murder is a category A felony in Nevada and can potentially expose a defendant to the death penalty upon conviction, or life imprisonment without parole. In comparison, a conviction of second degree murder can carry possible life imprisonment with the possibility of parole after 10 years. If a deadly weapon was used to commit the murder, such as a gun or a knife, an additional penalty of 1 to 20 years can be imposed.

Manslaughter in Nevada

Manslaughter is a killing without malice or premeditation and is charged as a lesser crime than murder. Manslaughter can either be “voluntary” or “involuntary” depending on the circumstances surrounding the killing. Voluntary manslaughter is an impulsive killing that occurs when a person is in a fragile emotional state and is unable to control their actions. For example, a person commits voluntary manslaughter if they were to stumble upon their spouse in bed with another lover, prompting them to immediately kill them both in the heat of passion. Conversely, involuntary manslaughter is an unintentional killing done while breaking the law or by acting negligent, such as hitting a pedestrian while speeding.

Penalties for manslaughter in Nevada are as follows:

  • Voluntary manslaughter: Up to 10 years in prison and $10,000 in fines
  • Involuntary manslaughter: Up to 4 years in prison and $5,000 in fines

Regardless, any sort of criminal homicide charge is an extremely serious manner and must be handled by an experienced attorney. If you have been charged or are even being investigated for murder or manslaughter, contact the Law Office of David R. Fischer today. Having earned a 10.0 “Superb” Avvo Rating and a Super Lawyers® inclusion for our unmatched dedication and skills, our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys can protect your freedom and fight to level the playing field against the prosecution’s claims. Call or contact our firm online today to discuss your case in detail.