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SWINDLE: Homicide, murder and manslaughter

Unlawful killings in Georgia consist of a wide range of circumstances. Any unlawful killing of another person is referred to as a “homicide.” But, this broad term can include murder or manslaughter, depending on the actions and state of mind of the accused. The difference is significant.

Murder – 1st Degree

Murder is the most severe homicide crime. A person commits the offense of murder – 1st degree when he or she unlawfully and with malice aforethought, either express or implied, causes the death of another human being.

Express malice is that deliberate intention to take the life of another human being which is manifested by external circumstances capable of proof. Malice shall be implied where no considerable provocation appears and where all the circumstances of the killing show an abandoned and malignant heart. A person convicted of the offense of Murder – 1st Degree shall be punished by death, by imprisonment for life without parole, or by imprisonment for life with parole.

Murder – 2nd Degree

A person commits the offense of Murder – 2nd Degree when, in the commission of Cruelty to Children in the 2nd Degree, he or she causes the death of another human being irrespective of malice. A person convicted of the offense of Murder – 2nd Degree shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than 10 nor more than 30 years.

Felony Murder

A person commits the offense of Felony Murder when, in the commission of a felony, he or she causes the death of another human irrespective of malice.

Here, the killing need not be intentional.  The punishment is the same as Murder – 1st Degree.

Manslaughter

In Georgia, manslaughter can be either voluntary or involuntary:

Voluntary

manslaughter 

Voluntary manslaughter occurs when a person intentionally kills another while under the influence of a sudden and violent passion.  This passion must be caused by a serious provocation that would create such passion in a reasonable person.  An example of  sufficient provocation would be when a person catches his or her spouse in the act of adultery.  Voluntary manslaughter is punishable by one to 20 years in prison.

Involuntary

manslaughter

Involuntary manslaughter is the unintentional killing of another person. The killing must result from the commission of an unlawful act other than a felony. For instance, a person can be convicted when an intoxicated driver kills someone in a vehicle collision.