Homicide is amongst the worst criminal offenses; taking a man’s life is a condemnable action that is justly and harshly punished by the law. There are different kinds of homicide, which have different punishments, depending on the planning and intention (or the lack of) of the accused.
The different types of homicide:
- The murder that is further divided into three categories – first-degree murder (§18.2-32), second-degree murder (§18.2-32) and capital murder (§18.2-31).
- Justifiable homicide are cases when it is acceptable to take a man‘s life.
- Manslaughter cases are the ones where the accused accidentally takes a man’s life.
The punishments and possible fines:
If a person is found guilty of first-degree murder, then he can be sentenced a minimum of 20 years or life in prison. Also, he can be fined for a maximum of $100,000.
Whereas if a person is found guilty of second-degree murder (or even felony murder), then he can get a sentence of between 5 to 40 years in prison.
Capital murder is punishable by a fine of $100,000, along with either life in prison or death. However, if the accused is mentally unstable or has mental disabilities, or is under the age of 18, then he will face a fine of up to $100,000 and a life in prison sentence.
Manslaughter can be divided into two categories voluntary manslaughter and involuntary manslaughter, obviously, involuntary manslaughter has a less harsh punishment in comparison to voluntary manslaughter. However, if the conduct of the accused (of involuntary manslaughter) is found to be gross or wanton, or if he has a blatant disregard for human life, then his punishment will be tougher. A manslaughter charge can land you a fine of $2,500 and a prison sentence that could range from 12 months to up to 10 years. The reason that the punishments and fines of manslaughter are lesser than that of murder, is because it is not as severe of an offense in the book of law.
Identifying the type of homicide:
The term ‘justifiable homicide’ says a lot about the crime; a homicide that is done in self-dense or in the defense of another, in case of (if there is without a doubt) an imminent threat which you can’t avoid or escape from, then that is considered to be a justifiable homicide. An example of this could be the homicide of a burglar during an armed robbery, for the protection of your family who might be in danger of being severely harmed or worse dead.
First-degree murder is when a homicide is done after premeditation or with willful intent. This cold-blooded murder can be explained with two examples – lying in wait to bludgeon someone to death or by giving someone a lethal dose of poison.
Second-degree murder is when the intent of killing is there, but without any premeditation or planning. Mostly these are crimes of passion that are done in the heat of the moment, for example during a nasty argument.