Manslaughter vs Murder: The Ultimate Comparison

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Manslaughter vs Murder

Here’s the most researched comparison between manslaughter vs murder. Our experienced lawyers have prepared this comparison. So that Canadian citizens can understand the difference and can use them whenever they face legal issues related to such criminal offence.

When it comes to crimes, homicide is on the top of the list. We must have watched numerous movies related to murders. In reality, such murderous and heinous crimes are different from one another and much more serious.

There are several types of murders according to law and order. Among them, murder vs manslaughter can bring the biggest confusion. There is also the comparison between 2nd-degree murder vs manslaughter and third-degree murder vs manslaughter.

According to Canadian Criminal Code, there are several charges that can be pressed against an accused person. We have shared everything in this article on the criminal code of Canada.

This article focuses on providing an ultimate comparison between every kind of murder and manslaughter.

Manslaughter vs Murder: A Brief Comparison

Among the several types of murder out there, understanding the key difference between murder and manslaughter is a must. When it comes to one person killing another, you will come across two major terminologies. These are- murder and manslaughter. Here is a quick review of the murder vs manslaughter definition.


Murder is the classic terminology of killing someone with a primary motive. This is called “malice aforethought”. There are two types of malice. One is “express malice”, and the other one is “implied malice”.

When one person intends to kill another person intentionally, that is called expressed malice. On the other hand, implied malice is the willingly act of one person to hurt another that can likely end up killing that person. Moreover, implied malice can also put other people in danger, putting their lives in danger. This means that the guilty person committed the crime with zero regard for human life.

Whenever a crime involves any of the two malice, it is considered murder. There are further classifications of murder. These are- first-degree murder, second-degree murder, and third-degree murder.

First-degree murder is the legal term for a murder that was both intended and intentional. If something was planned, it was first imagined and carefully considered before being done. If it was intentional, the action was deliberate and not impulsive.

A murder that is not planned and intended may nonetheless be charged as first-degree murder in several situations. First-degree murder is always committed when a police officer or prison guard is killed. First-degree murder is also regarded by Canadian law as occurring during the commission of other specified crimes, such as hijacking, sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault, kidnapping, forcible confinement, hostage taking, terrorism, intimidation, or any offence committed on behalf of a criminal organization.

Second-degree murder is any homicide that can be proven if the prosecution can show that the accused intended to kill the victim or if he planned to cause bodily harm that he knew would likely result in death.

Murder Sentence

First- and second-degree murder convictions carry life terms in jail without the possibility of parole. Unless parole is denied, offenders who are released from prison while serving life terms must remain on parole.


Manslaughter and murder have very little difference in terms of technicality. Both the crimes are unlawful killing of another human being. However, manslaughter means that there is no malice involved. Nevertheless, a person committing manslaughter also has no value in human life and ends up taking other people’s lives.

There are two types of manslaughter. One is voluntary manslaughter, and the other one is involuntary manslaughter. Voluntary manslaughter means that the horrible act of killing someone has been done from the “heat of passion” or from defending oneself from an imminent attack. On the other hand, involuntary manslaughter involves unlawful killing from recklessness, irresponsibility, or criminal negligence.

The “heat of passion” is an important term in defining manslaughter. It provokes a person emotionally or to an extent where the person acts rashly and ends up taking a life. In such cases, the jury usually must decide whether the act was due to rash behavior or a pre-intended plan from anger.

Check Also: Prosecutor vs Lawyer

Manslaughter Sentence

Manslaughter sentences range from probation as a minimum to life in prison as a maximum. However, most of these crimes fall within the 4 to 15-year range.

Comparison Table: 4 Types of Murderous Crimes

First Degree Murder

Second Degree Murder

Third Degree Murder


First-degree murder is the deliberate and planned form of murder. For a murder to fall under the first-degree murder category, the murderer must have deliberately killed a person, read more. Second-degree murder is also deliberate, but it should not be planned if both planning and deliberate intention are not present for a motive to kill another person, that killing would not fall under second-degree murder, read more. Third-degree murder is not a common homicide. When a person takes life without any form of intention, planning, or willpower, that crime falls under third-degree murder. It is sometimes mixed up with manslaughter. However, killing a person from a nonviolent felony can fall under third-degree murder, but not manslaughter, read more. Manslaughter is a complete unintentional act of killing someone. It can be both voluntary and involuntary. Voluntary manslaughter involves taking life from a violent act that had no intention of killing a person initially. Involuntary manslaughter is a negligent and reckless act resulting in a person losing his or her life, read more.
Some common example of first-degree murder is killing a person working for the law or stalking someone before taking the person’s life. In addition, sexual assault, terrorist activities, hostage-taking, criminal harassment through a criminal organization, etc., can be some other forms of first-degree murder. Second-degree murder can be exemplified through arbitrary but intentional killing. For instance, a person deliberately killing another person from rage or in the heat of the moment is a second-degree murder charge. Moreover, committing an act where someone has no regard for human life can fall under second-degree murder. Third-degree murder is hard to exemplify. As there is very little difference with manslaughter, there is often confusion between them. For example, suppose someone falls off a ledge and accidentally kills someone. That killing is an example of third-degree murder. Causing the death of another person through criminal negligence, the threat of violence or anger can fall under manslaughter. Voluntary manslaughter is killing a person from provocation. A classic example is a bar fight leading to murder. An involuntary manslaughter example can be killing a person from a harmful product. The company may not have had the intention to kill people.
First-degree murder charges are simply lifetime imprisonment or even the death penalty. There is also a scope of parole from lifetime imprisonment. However, criminals will have to stay in prison, showing good behavior, self-rehabilitation, and a sense of responsibility for about 25 years at least. Second-degree murder charges are also lifetime imprisonment. However, the parole eligibility is much lenient. For example, a murderer may be awarded parole after 10 years of imprisonment. Third-degree murder charges involve imprisonment of up to 40 years. In addition, criminals may be fined as much as $50,000 along with jail time. Every state that acknowledges third-degree murders has a minimum jail time together with a possible fine over the imprisonment. Manslaughter charges can vary from state to state. In any state, charges can be as much as lifetime imprisonment. If there is any firearm involved, the criminal can face at least 4 years of imprisonment. In the end, the charges will vary from case to case.


The comparison between manslaughter vs first-degree murder can easily be understood through their definitions. Whenever the court finds intent, motif, and preplanning, that case will be considered first-degree murder. Conversely, a case fulfilling none of those three attributes is manslaughter. Second-degree murder vs manslaughter can be understood by the intention of the act only. If there is an intention, that is second-degree murder. Unintentional killing falls under manslaughter. However, second-degree murder vs voluntary manslaughter can be a bit confusing. Both acts are killing someone from anger or rage. In terms of second-degree murder, that anger becomes an intention to kill someone. In contrast, if the killing is an accident, that is manslaughter. Third-degree murder and manslaughter have almost no difference. The only significant contrast between them is the recognition. Most states will file manslaughter as a third-degree murder case. If there is some vendetta, that killing may fall under third-degree murder only. The difference between voluntary manslaughter vs murder lies in their intentions. A person willingly murdering someone is cold-blooded murder. On the other hand, getting involved in a bar fight and causing death from punching someone without any intention to kill is manslaughter.

Frequently Asked Questions

Question-01: What’s the Difference Between Murders and Manslaughter?

Answer: When a criminal act intended to kill someone with proper planning and malice, that act is called murder. On the other hand, manslaughter is the unintentional killing of another person.

Question-02: Can You Be Charged with Manslaughter without Killing Someone?

Answer: Yes, you can still be charged with manslaughter even if you are not directly involved with killing someone. For example, suppose criminal activities like burglary, rape, arson, child molestation, kidnapping, robbery, drug dealing, etc., lead to the death of a person. In that case, you can be charged with manslaughter for these felony acts.

Question-03: How Long Do You Go to Jail for Manslaughter?

Answer: You can be imprisoned for life for manslaughter. Jail time can be range from somewhere between 10 to 25 years, depending on the severity of the case.

Question-04: What Does Manslaughter in the First Degree Mean?

Answer: Manslaughter, in the first degree, means that there was an intention to hurt someone but not take a life physically. However, if that physical injury leads to death, it is considered manslaughter in the first degree.

Question-05: How Many Years is Second-Degree Manslaughter?

Answer: The minimum year of imprisonment in second-degree manslaughter can be 1 to 3 years. However, jail time can go as much as 15 years.

Question-06: What Sentence Do You Get for Manslaughter?

Answer: The maximum sentence for manslaughter is life imprisonment. Other forms of charges can involve several years of jail time along with monetary fines.

Finishing Words: Manslaughter vs Murder

In conclusion, it is safe to say that manslaughter vs murder is a debatable topic. The only thing separating these two is the intention to kill. Thus, proving one’s unwillingness to take the victim’s life can make the murder case into manslaughter. In addition, judges may have to have no reasonable doubt while giving a verdict whether the crime was murder or manslaughter. Either way, the criminal must face charges in the form of jail time and possible monetary fines.