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Homicide meaning in the criminal justice system

When most people hear the word homicide, they likely think of some gruesome murder. That isn't the case. From a legal standpoint, homicide encompasses any death that was caused by another person. If you are being investigated for a homicide, there are some specific points you should know.

Homicides can be criminal acts, but they don't always fall into this category. A justifiable homicide, such as a true self-defense killing, would still be a homicide even if charges aren't filed. This means that if a woman kills a man who is trying to rape her, she might not face charges if the killing was done while the man was in the process of attacking her.

Homicides that are criminal acts can be classified as murder or manslaughter. The exact charge that is levied depends on the specific circumstances of the killing. Murder and manslaughter have classifications within each category that are determined by the same factors.

Typically, manslaughter is considered a lesser charge than murder. A drunk driver who kills someone in an accident might face manslaughter charges. A person who kills another person in a drug deal gone bad might face murder charges. The intent of the defendant at the time of the homicide, how much planning was done for the homicide and other factors all play a part in the charges.

No matter what kind of homicide charges you are facing, you need to determine what options you have. Being convicted of any of these charges can significantly impact the rest of your life, so be sure to think carefully about each option you are given.

Source: FindLaw, "Homicide Definition," accessed Dec. 28, 2016

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