First degree murder is the most serious criminal charge that a defendant can face. But, the law recognizes that not every homicide is premeditated. For this reason, there are several other homicide laws that are applied in cases where the defendant did not intend on killing the victim. For example, a defendant who killed someone without intent to do so could be charged with criminally negligent homicide or manslaughter. What’s the difference between these two crimes? Here’s what you should know:
The Cause of the Victim’s Death
The law states that you can be charged with criminally negligent homicide if your criminally negligent behavior caused the death of another person. On the other hand, the law states that you can be charged with manslaughter if your reckless behavior caused the death of another person. Therefore, the difference between these two crimes is the type of behavior that caused the victim’s death.
Criminal Negligence vs. Reckless Behavior
Criminal negligence is legally defined as the failure to realize that your behavior is so dangerous that it could kill someone. In order to prove you were criminally negligent, the prosecution must be able to show that a reasonable person in your situation would have realized that their behavior was potentially dangerous.
In the eyes of the law, you are reckless when you act in a manner that puts others at risk even though you are aware that your behavior could seriously harm or kill another person.
To put it simply, the difference between these two legal definitions comes down to risk awareness. A person who is criminally negligent did not realize his behavior was dangerous, even though he should have, whereas a reckless person knew his behavior was dangerous, but ignored the risks.
Which Crime is More Serious?
Any crime involving the loss of another person’s life should be taken seriously. But, manslaughter is a more serious crime than criminally negligent homicide. Manslaughter is charged as a class 4 felony in Colorado, whereas criminally negligent homicide is charged as a class 5 felony. Both of these crimes are far less serious than first degree and second degree murder, which cannot be charged unless the defendant had the intent to kill.
Have you been accused of killing another person? If so, contact Reisch Law Firm at once. The criminal defense attorneys at Reisch Law Firm have successfully handled countless homicide and manslaughter cases. Let us fight for your freedom. Schedule a free consultation today by calling 303-291-0555 or filling out this online form.