Murder and manslaughter. Unfortunately, these words are often used interchangeably to describe very different crimes. Understanding the difference between murder and manslaughter lies in its subtlety. While at the end of the commission of both crimes someone loses their life, it is how the crimes occur and the forethought that goes into them that makes the difference.

Involuntary Manslaughter

Involuntary manslaughter is the unintentional homicide of another person due to conduct that is either criminally negligent or reckless. It may also refer to the unintentional homicide of another through the commission of a misdemeanor crime.

Voluntary Manslaughter

This type of manslaughter is what most people are thinking of when they think of someone being killed “in the heat of the moment.” Voluntary manslaughter occurs when a person is reasonably but strongly provoked and kills due to that provocation.

The classic scenario goes like this: A husband comes home from work early only to discover his spouse in bed with someone else. The husband is so enraged that he grabs a weapon and kills the spouse’s lover right then and there. Because the husband had no time to coll off before the provocation and the commission of the crime, it may be considered voluntary manslaughter.


Under common law, murder is considered to be the unlawful killing of another committed with malice aforethought. Essentially, a person must have killed someone not in the heat of the moment, but with a plan in place or the intention to kill.

A person may also be charged with murder if they kill someone during the commission of another crime that is a felony. A charge of murder can also be brought upon a person who intentionally inflicts serious bodily harm upon another and the victim dies as a result of those injuries. The aggressor did not have the intention to kill the victim, but they did have the intent to do harm.

It is not atypical for a person to be charged with murder only to have those charges reduced to manslaughter once details are brought forth and facts are proven. The charges are similar in nature and subtleties in the commission of the crime can determine whether or not someone will be charged with manslaughter or murder.

If you have been charged with a crime and need a criminal defense lawyer in Orlando, please reach out to our team. We will review the facts of your case and provide you with a free case evaluation. Call now to find out how we can assist you.

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