Difference Between Homicide, Murder, and Manslaughter in Florida

Difference Between Homicide, Murder,
Law Offices of Donald P. Day

In everyday language, the terms homicide, murder, and manslaughter often get used interchangeably. However, in Florida legal terms, these words have different meanings and different consequences, but all of them are ideally handled with the advice of a Homicide, Murder, & Manslaughter Lawyer in Naples, FL. Below is a guide to knowing the difference between these three terms.


Homicide is a blanket term that describes any event in which one person causes another person’s death. Anytime someone is killed by the action of another person, it is deemed a homicide. However, not all homicides are considered criminal acts, and not all are illegal. For example, killings that occur in self-defense or killings that are a result of war are not necessarily illegal acts that would necessitate criminal charges, even though a person’s actions caused the other person’s death. Furthermore, there may or may not be an intent to kill for a death to be ruled a homicide. It requires only that there be an act of recklessness or negligence by a person that results in another person’s death.

There are many different classifications of homicide, and some are even further classified as voluntary or involuntary, among others. These are listed here, and some are further discussed below.

  • Murder
  • Manslaughter
  • Voluntary manslaughter
  • Involuntary manslaughter
  • Vehicular manslaughter
  • Justifiable homicide
  • Assassination
  • Killing in war
  • Euthanasia
  • Fatal DUI accidents
  • Capital punishment


Murder is defined as an act of intent, which means that an intentional act was carried out, and someone died as a result. Murder is the intentional and unlawful killing of another person. In the courtroom, establishing a charge of murder requires proof that premeditated planning took place (first-degree murder) or an act in the heat of the moment urged a person to intentionally kill another person (second-degree murder).

Florida law differentiates two types of murder: first-degree murder and second-degree murder. First-degree murder is premeditated and occurs when the intentional act of killing another person takes place. It is also used to describe murder that occurred in conjunction with certain other felonies, such as kidnapping or robbery. In Florida, first-degree murder is punishable by life in prison and may even elicit the death penalty in some cases.

Second-degree murder is not premeditated or planned out in advance, but it still involves the intentional killing of another person. It occurs when one person causes the death of another person in the heat of the moment but intentionally. This can happen within a fight or argument that just happens to escalate so far that it leads one person to make an intentional decision to kill the other person. It was not premeditated, but it was intentional, nonetheless. Second-degree murder in Florida can get you a sentence of life in prison.


Manslaughter is the unintentional killing of someone else. It involves the unlawful killing of another person without premeditated intentions and/or an intent to kill. If someone means to harm someone else and happens to inadvertently kill them instead, it is manslaughter. A conviction of manslaughter does not require the prosecution to prove that there was an intent to kill or an intentional cause of harm. Instead, it must simply prove that the defendant killed the other person.

Manslaughter is also divided into two categories: voluntary and involuntary. Voluntary manslaughter occurs when someone unintentionally kills another while they are committing another felony. It can also arise within a fight or argument, like second-degree murder. However, there is no intentional act of killing when manslaughter occurs. There may be an intention to harm but not to kill. Florida voluntary manslaughter charges will garner a maximum of 15 to 30 years in prison for anyone convicted of these charges.

Involuntary manslaughter, on the other hand, involves someone killing another person unintentionally, not while committing another felony, but due to their own negligence, recklessness, or lack of responsible behavior. Involuntary manslaughter can carry a penalty of up to 15 years in prison in Florida.

FAQs About the Difference Between Homicide, Murder, and Manslaughter

What Is the Sentence for Homicide in Florida?

There are no charges in Florida for homicide, specifically. However, if someone does murder someone, it is deemed a homicide. For a first-degree murder conviction in Florida, an individual can get a maximum sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole, or they may even be sentenced to the death penalty.

What Is the Statute of Limitations for Murder in Florida?

There is no statute of limitations in Florida for murder or any capital offense felony or felonies that result in someone’s death. This means that law enforcement can arrest someone, and prosecutors can press charges against them for murder at any time, even decades after the crime was originally committed.

What Is the Difference Between Homicide and Murder?

Homicide is the killing of another person, while murder is the intentional killing of another person. First-degree murder is premeditated and planned out, while second-degree murder occurs intentionally within the course of committing another felony. All murders are homicides, but not all homicides are murders.

What Is the Difference Between Manslaughter and Murder?

The main difference between murder and manslaughter is that murder is intentional, whether pre-planned or spur of the moment. In short, the murderer meant to kill the victim. Manslaughter, however, is an unplanned or unintentional act of murder that can occur in the heat of the moment within an act of passion.

Hiring an Attorney for Criminal Charges

The most serious homicide charges in Florida are first-degree murder, but they’re all serious in some way. If you have been charged with manslaughter, murder, or any other homicidal crime in Florida, speaking with an experienced Florida criminal attorney should be your next move. Contact the Law Office of Donald P. Day to discuss your case, your options, and the potential consequences you face. Our attorneys can optimize the outcome of your case. We’ve represented many clients in your situation and can share with you an honest account of what you can expect to come from your charges.