The killing of one human being by another is called a homicide. Not all homicides are criminal. For example, a person threatened with death by another may have the legal right to use self-defense, even if it results in the death of the other person.
Murder is the unlawful taking of another life. It’s usually the result of an intentional act for the purpose of causing death or an act that shows a depraved indifference to human life. Because of the bad intent on the part of the criminal, the state of New Mexico has chosen to give the harshest punishments to criminals who commit murder. This may include a sentence of life imprisonment.
One common form of murder is called felony murder. A felony murder is when a person is killed during the commission of a felony. A felony is a serious crime that's usually punishable by more than one year in prison. There are certain key differences between felony murder and most other forms of murder.
Manslaughter is usually divided into two types:
- Voluntary manslaughter
- Involuntary manslaughter
Manslaughter is the unlawful taking of another life under circumstances that make the criminal less culpable than someone who commits murder. A criminal who's found guilty of manslaughter will usually receive a lesser punishment than if he was found guilty of murder.
Voluntary manslaughter is the taking of another life with the intent to kill or cause serious physical injury. This type of manslaughter is very similar to murder. However, there are circumstances that make the killing a lesser crime than murder.
Involuntary manslaughter is the unintentional killing of another person. The death is usually caused by some careless action on the part of the accused. Involuntary manslaughter is considered a lesser form of manslaughter because of the lack of intent. Therefore, the punishment is usually less than murder or voluntary manslaughter.
Vehicular manslaughter is the unintentional killing of another due to negligence while driving. States differ as to whether this is a separate type of manslaughter or one under the category of involuntary manslaughter. Most states treat this crime as a lesser form of manslaughter.