As a Georgia Criminal Defense Lawyer, I see people, news stations, reporters, and even legal professionals mislabel homicide offenses way too often. Each state has different titles and definitions for homicide offenses, and in today's post, I will highlight each offense and what the definition is by law.
Homicide is simply the killing of a human being by a human being. Not all homicides are criminal offenses - for example, if a homicide results from justified self defense in Georgia.
In Georgia, criminal homicide offenses vary and have different meanings. The offenses are listed out below.
Murder in Georgia
Murder in Georgia is defined by Georgia Law as:
“A person commits the offense of murder when he unlawfully and with malice aforethought, express or implied, causes the death of another human being.” O.C.G.A. §16-5-1(a).
The offense of murder requires malice. Malice is defined as having a wicked or corrupt motive or an intention to do evil. Malice is implied by the Court when there is no considerable provocation done by the alleged victim. The penalty for a murder conviction is a life sentence in prison without parole, the death penalty, or life in prison.
Felony Murder in Georgiais defined by Georgia law as:
“A person commits the offense of murder when, in the commission of a felony, he or she causes the death of another human being irrespective of malice.” O.C.G.A. §16-5-1(c).
This is possibly the most misunderstood in regard to all the different types of criminal homicide offenses.
A person is concerned in the commission of a crime if he or she:
- Directly commits the crime;
- Causes some other person to commit the crime under such circumstances that the other person is not guilty of any crime either in fact or because of legal incapacity;
- Aids or abets in the commission of the crime; or
- Advises, encourages, hires, counsels, or procures another to commit the crime.
In order to convict the accused person, the prosecution must show that the accused person either attempted or completed a felony that is deemed serious or inherently dangerous under Georgia law. The penalty for a felony murder conviction is a life sentence in prison without parole, the death penalty, or life in prison.
Manslaughter in Georgia
Manslaughter in Georgia is divided into two separate offenses by law - involuntary manslaughter in Georgia and voluntary manslaughter in Georgia.
Involuntary manslaughter in Georgia is defined by Georgia law as:
A person commits the offense of involuntary manslaughter in the commission of an unlawful act when he causes the death of another human being without any intention to do so:
1) by the commission of an unlawful act other than a felony;
2) or by the commission of a lawful act in an unlawful manner likely to cause death or great bodily harm. O.C.G.A. §16-5-3.
If convicted of involuntary manslaughter by the commission of an unlawful act other than a felony, the punishment can include between one and ten years imprisonment.
If convicted of involuntary manslaughter by the commission of a lawful act in an unlawful manner likely to cause death or great bodily harm, the punishment can include up to a year in jail, a fine, or both.
Voluntary manslaughter in Georgia is defined by Georgia law as:
A person commits the offense of voluntary manslaughter when he or she causes the death of another human being under circumstances which would otherwise be murder and if he acts solely as a result of a sudden, violent, and irresistible passion resulting from serious provocation sufficient to excite such passion in a reasonable person; however, if there should have been an interval between the provocation and the killing sufficient for the voice of reason and humanity to be heard, of which the jury in all cases shall be the judge, the killing shall be attributed to deliberate revenge and be punished as murder. O.C.G.A. §16-5-2.
If convicted of voluntary manslaughter in Georgia, the punishment can include one to twenty years of imprisonment.
As you can see from the definitions provided by the Georgia Code, it's easy to get these offenses confused. Many times even news reporters get the offenses mixed up.
As a Georgia Criminal Defense Attorney, it is important for me to note that even though these are serious offenses, no one should ever be deemed guilty just because they have been accused of committing a homicide offense in Georgia. Everyone is presumed innocent until proven guilty. The prosecution has the burden of proving that the accused person is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
If you or a loved one has been accused or charged of a homicide offense in Georgia, contact our offices today. We will walk through your particular case every step of the way. We will analyze the best way to tackle your case and which Georgia Criminal Defenses apply.