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When people think or hear about an individual who has committed a murder, they do not know that murder in all reality is a broad way to describe several different types of killings. Under Michigan law, murder can be broken down into five categories. Those categories are 1st degree murder; 2nd degree murder; involuntary manslaughter; voluntary manslaughter; and felony murder.

What is the Difference Between Murder and Manslaughter?

This is one of the most dramatic differences in the field of criminal law. When we hear that a defendant is charged with murder, we often think of first degree or second-degree murder. From a broad point of view, both of these murders require the element of intent. Did the defendant want to have the outcome that transpired? That is one of the most basic questions that must be established before the court and perhaps the most difficult aspect for a jury to provide insight on.

Manslaughter is a much more favorable charge for the defendant because the element of intent is not required and hence the charge is not as severe. The classic example of manslaughter is when a man walks home and finds his wife cheating on him. He loses his emotion and kills the individual having an affair with his wife. The argument here is that he never would’ve had the thought process to commit the crime if he was thinking clearly.

Let’s change the facts a little: Let’s say the defendant finds his wife having an affair. He watches for a moment, goes down to get his gun and comes back up and kills the lover. Now, that “cooling-off” period could raise the charge from manslaughter to first degree murder and takes the defendant from facing 15 years in prison to life.

Can I be Charged With First Degree Murder or Second-Degree Murder if I was not the One Who Killed the Victim?

The answer is yes if the defendant played ANY role in the crime. There is also an argument that if the defendant played a role in the criminal enterprise that led to the death of the victim or killed someone by mistake but intended to kill someone, they can be charged with first or second-degree murder. A theory that has gained a lot of momentum in the state of Michigan is the transferred intent doctrine. This means that if a defendant wanted to kill one party and accidentally killed another party, they could be charged for first- or second-degree murder.

Can you be Charged With Murder if the Person Doesn’t die Immediately?

Yes, there is no statute of limitations for the charge of murder.

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