Are Murder Charges the Same as Manslaughter Charges?

Murder and manslaughter are not the same type of crime, yet, there isn’t always a clear line between them. Continue reading to learn the difference between murder charges and manslaughter charges, including a brief explanation of involuntary and voluntary manslaughter.

Indiana Homicide Lawyer 317-636-7514
Indiana Homicide Lawyer 317-636-7514


Murder is the act of a human killing another human. Many people use the terms murder and homicide interchangeably, but they are not really the same thing. A homicide is also the killing of human by another human, but it is not necessarily always a crime. You see, a homicide can be the result of self-defense, or similar justifiable action. Murder, on the other hand, is an unlawful act, and therefore, a crime regardless of the minutia.

In most states, murder is divided into different levels, usually First degree murder, Second degree murder, and manslaughter. Those suspected of premeditated murder are indicted under First degree murder charges. Those suspected of non-premeditated murder are indicted under Second degree murder charges. But not all states do this. For instance, Indiana only has one murder statute, but two types of manslaughter statutes. So in Indiana, a second degree murder charge would actually be a manslaughter charge.


Manslaughter is a type of unlawful killing of a human that does not involve malice aforethought, meaning it was not premeditated. Manslaughter is further broken down into two categories: voluntary manslaughter and involuntary manslaughter. Voluntary manslaughter is also known as the heat of passion crime. Such crimes occur when a person is strongly provoked to kill, or kills in the heat of passion that is stimulated by certain provocation. Involuntary manslaughter is a type of unintentional or accidental homicide, either from criminally negligent or reckless actions.

For instance, if someone drives drunk and collides into another vehicle, killing all passengers inside, they would likely be guilty of involuntary manslaughter. If a husband unexpectedly catches his wife in bed with another man, and beats that man to death, they would likely be charged with voluntary manslaughter.

Murder and Manslaughter Penalties

Penalties handed down for murder and manslaughter depend on various factors, including the details of the crime, the skill of the defense, the jury, the residing magistrate, the age of the defendant, the age of victim/s, the manner in which the victim was killed, and much more. Such penalties differ even further from state to state. For example, here are the penalties for murder and manslaughter in Indiana:

Murder – Indiana Code Section 35-42-1-1:

Anywhere from 45 years in jail to the death penalty, with an advisory jail sentence of 55 years and fines of up to $10,000.

Voluntary Manslaughter – Indiana Code Section 35-42-1-3:

Anywhere from 10 to 30 years in jail, with an advisory jail sentence of 17.5 years and fines of up to $10,000.

Involuntary Manslaughter – Indiana Code Section 35-42-1-4:

Anywhere from 1 to 6 years in jail, with an advisory jail sentence of 3 years and fines of up to $10,000. If the offense occurred while the defendant was operating a vehicle, driving privileges are suspended for 2 to 5 years.

Aggressive and Experienced Defense For Indiana Homicide Charges

Call 317-636-7514 to schedule a consultation with aggressive criminal defense attorney, David E. Lewis regarding your Indiana homicide charges. He will stop at nothing to protect your rights and preserve your freedoms after being charged with murder or manslaughter in Indianapolis, Indiana. With decades of hands-on experience, you can trust Attorney David E. Lewis to build you a strong and impactful defense against your criminal charges.

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