Homicide itself is not always a crime, which is important to know if you’re facing charges in Louisiana. Homicides include all kinds of killings of human beings, from murders to accidental manslaughters. Some kinds of homicides violate criminal laws, but others aren’t criminal at all. Here are a few key differences.

Murder, for example, is a serious criminal homicide. If someone is charged with first-degree murder, then it means that it was intentional and premeditated. Interestingly, the crime can still be considered as premeditated, even if the wrong person or a different person was killed. If a murder was not premeditated, it could be downgraded to voluntary manslaughter or second-degree murder charges. These typically have lesser punishments to go along with them.

Manslaughter is an illegal killing that isn’t considered to be a murder. Involuntary manslaughter is the lowest form of manslaughter. This kind of crime may take place if a car accident results in a death, for instance. Manslaughter charges assume that the offender didn’t intend to kill anyone.

Justified killings are known as justified homicides. These may be legal in only a few cases, like if you have to defend yourself against someone. If the other person is killed in a situation where that kind of force was necessary and lethal force can be used in the state, then the killing could be legal. Most commonly, defending yourself against armed robbery, murder or rape is acceptable as a legal homicide, even when it results in the attacker’s death.

If you find yourself defending your reputation due to committing a murder or homicide of any kind, it’s important to seek help. With the right defense, you may be able to have your homicide charge reduced or dropped completely, so you can get on with your life.

Source: FindLaw, “Homicide Definition” Oct. 14, 2014