September 26

Difference Between Kill, Homicide, and Murder


As you know, in the legal field, criminal law paralegals must be ready to work on cases that involve human death. In this email, we are going to clear up some confusion relating to legal definitions in this area of law. If you don’t wish to be exposed to this topic, I suggest you do not read further. 

​”Murder,” “homicide,” and “kill” are related terms often used in legal and everyday language to describe the act of causing another person’s death. However, they have distinct legal and semantic differences:


“Kill” is a general and broad term that simply means causing the death of another living being. It can refer to the act of taking someone’s life intentionally or unintentionally.
Killing can be lawful (e.g., self-defense or a soldier in combat) or unlawful (e.g., murder or manslaughter).
It is a neutral term that does not inherently imply criminality or legality.

“Homicide” is a legal term used to describe the killing of one person by another person. It encompasses all instances of one person causing the death of another.
Homicide can be categorized into different types based on intent and circumstances:
a. Murder: A deliberate and intentional killing with malice aforethought, often involving premeditation.
b. Manslaughter: The unlawful killing of another person without malice or with less intent than murder. Manslaughter can be further divided into voluntary and involuntary manslaughter, depending on the level of intent or negligence involved.

“Murder” is a specific subset of homicide that involves the intentional and unlawful killing of another person with malice aforethought. Malice aforethought means that the perpetrator had the intent to cause death or serious bodily harm.
Murder charges are typically more severe than manslaughter charges and carry heavier penalties.
Murder is often categorized into different degrees (e.g., first-degree murder and second-degree murder) based on the specific circumstances and intent involved. First-degree murder generally implies premeditation and a higher level of intent, while second-degree murder may involve intent but without premeditation.

​In summary, “kill” is a general term for causing the death of another living being, “homicide” is a legal term encompassing all instances of one person causing the death of another, and “murder” is a specific type of homicide involving intentional and unlawful killing with malice aforethought. The legal distinctions between these terms can vary by jurisdiction, so it’s important to consult the specific laws and definitions applicable in a particular location.


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