Home / Q: What’s the Difference Between Murder and Manslaughter?

Q: What’s the Difference Between Murder and Manslaughter?

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A: So, you’re in a bit of a dilemma. You have this, uh, friend. Yeah, that’s it – a friend. He’s gotten himself into a little bit of a, um, predicament. He just needs some legal advice, that’s all. For those trying to discern between the two, there’s a quick trick for telling the difference between murder and manslaughter.

If your friend planned the crime ahead of time, it’s murder. You see, most of the world’s legal systems distinguish between cold-blooded killings, crimes of passion, and accidental (but still unlawful) deaths. In America, “murder” applies to carefully pre-planned deaths, such as a mafia hit. “Voluntary manslaughter,” on the other hand, is what’s committed when, for example, a husband catches his wife in bed with a tennis pro and snaps.

A third category, “involuntary manslaughter,” covers situations in which the death is neither pre-planned nor intentional. For instance, convincing your buddy that riding his bike off a cliff would be a totally rad idea.

Criminal law still differs widely from nation to nation. In Japan, the worst sentences are reserved for people who kill their own descendants, while in Italy a punishment can actually be lessened if the killer can prove that he acted to avenge his honor.

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  • RJ

    So…you’re telling me Ted Kennedy isn’t a murderer?

  • No, RJ, just that you’re a troll trying to drag your twisted Fox Noise-style “politics” into a simple dicussion. If you’re so desperate to libel someone, I suggest you do it somewhere else, lest you find yourself locked out.

  • Johnny

    What’s up with the sarcasm in the first paragraph? You think you’re so smart, huh? A simple definition would have sufficed smartass.

  • zingzing

    ah, humor.

  • bazinga

    nice comment except for the first paragragh.

  • BlackCat

    Loved it and found it very funny, specially the tennis pro example and Johnny, you are a wanker 🙂

  • Bambi

    Lmqo, the one’s who said ‘except for the first paragraph are stooooopopppiidd hahaha. ( : just saying !

  • manjimela

    How can one determine exactly what led someone to killing of another person whether intentional or not. Because in this world today we have seen the innocent going to jail while the guilt are let free and wlking the streets. Can we really depend on this so ncalled law w2hich favours the rich?

  • Mental_Floss


  • DaVontè Owens

    what if you follow some one after you was told not to and you all started to fight and you was losing so you shoot the other person what do we call that??

  • A clusterfuck.

  • Kate – Australia

    Well I for one thank you for your easily understandable explaination. Its not your fault the law is as it is so all the negative commenters can go get a life.
    You answered my enquiry perfectly!! 10/10

  • Joun

    In France, we have the “crime passionnel”. It is your exact same crime of passion. For love and because you lost your mind, you can be realeased without being convicts.
    It’s a classified in our judicial code like different from any manslaughter or crime causing death.