Murder and manslaughter are similar crimes in Louisiana, but the line is often blurry. In both instances, someone dies because of someone else. The penalties for manslaughter are often less than that of murder, so it is important to understand the differences.
NOLO defines manslaughter “as an unlawful killing that doesn’t involve malice aforethought.” Basically, manslaughter requires the absence of malice before committing the crime. Unintentional homicide often results from reckless conduct or criminal negligence with an involuntary manslaughter charge. The court considers the state of mind of the criminal to determine if it is involuntary manslaughter or unintentional second degree murder.
Crimes in the heat of passion result when the victim provokes an otherwise reasonable person. Voluntary manslaughter is often the charge given for these types of crimes. The emotional context weighs heavily in these types of cases. Manslaughter may still result in time in jail but generally not a felony charge.
Cornell Law School’s Legal Information Institute lists a host of ways a murderer commits the crime with malice aforethought. These include torture, assault, arson, kidnapping, espionage, lying in wait, poison and robbery. Murder committed while perpetrating another crime can still result in the felony charge. A first degree murder charge within the United States or its territorial jurisdiction results in lifetime imprisonment or the death penalty. Second degree murder results in a specified number of years in prison determined by the court.
Both murder and manslaughter cases occur in criminal court. The alleged criminal may have to stay in jail unless the court grants bail during the trial.