At the Griffin Law Office, APC, our San Diego criminal defense attorney represents clients charged with homicide throughout California. We understand the seriousness of these charges, ranging from murder to manslaughter, and provide the dedicated defense strategies that give our clients the confidence they need to pursue the best outcome for their unique circumstances.

Here, our San Diego County homicide defense attorneys explain the differences between these charges.

What is the Definition of Homicide in California?

Homicide and Murder

Homicide is a legal term for any killing of one person by another. It encompasses all instances in which one person causes the death of another person, regardless of the circumstances or intent.

Homicide can be from someone’s inaction that resulted in another’s death or an act that caused that death and can be defined into two main categories: criminal homicide and non-criminal homicide.

  • Criminal homicide involves situations where the killing is unlawful.
  • Non-criminal homicide includes instances where the killing is justified or excusable, like acts of self-defense or accidents.

If you are being investigated for homicide in California, you must speak with a skilled homicide defense lawyer in San Diego to learn more about your legal rights and options before you talk with the police.

What is the Definition of Murder in California?

Murder is a more specific category of criminal homicide that involves unlawful killings with malice aforethought. In essence, all murders are homicides, but not all homicides are murders.

It is defined as an unlawful killing that involves malice and premeditation — essentially an intention to commit the crime or to cause harm — including:

  • Express Malice: The intent to kill another person.
  • Implied Malice: Engaging in inherently dangerous conduct that shows a conscious disregard for human life, resulting in death.

In California, murder is further categorized into first-degree murder and second-degree murder:

  • First-Degree Murder: This typically involves premeditated and deliberate killings, as well as killings that occur during the commission of certain serious felonies like robbery, burglary, or kidnapping.
  • Second-Degree Murder: This includes all other murders that do not meet the criteria for first-degree murder, which may involve intentional killings without premeditation or killings that result from reckless conduct.

California law provides specific definitions, elements, and penalties for various degrees of murder, manslaughter, and other forms of criminal homicide. The classification and consequences of a homicide offense depend on the specific circumstances of the case and the defendant’s mental state at the time of the killing.

Have You Been Charged with Murder, Manslaughter, or Another Form of Criminal Homicide in California?

If you have been arrested for murder, manslaughter, or another form of criminal homicide in California, contact our skilled San Diego criminal defense attorney today to learn more about your legal rights and how we can help build your defense to pursue the best outcome for your case by calling 619-269-2131 today.