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Matthew A. Radefeld and Daniel A. Juengel

Homicide versus manslaughter charges in Missouri

On Behalf of | Jun 14, 2021 | Homicide |

Many people have questions about manslaughter versus homicide charges in Missouri. Your best course of action after an arrest is to contact a criminal attorney experienced with your specific charges. However, these charges can be discussed in broad terms for initial clarification.

Both homicide and manslaughter are criminal charges that are brought forth after someone was killed. However, there are some key differences.

The primary distinction between these charges centers around the accused’s intent and whether their actions were planned ahead of time. Chapter 565 Offenses Against the Person of the Missouri Statutes describes these crimes and their respective penalties in detail.

Missouri homicide charges

In Missouri, what is commonly referred to as “homicide” falls under one of two murder charges: first degree and second degree.

First Degree Murder charges arise when the defendant “knowingly cause[d] the death of another person after deliberation upon the matter.” First Degree Murder is a class A felony. 

If the defendant is 18 years or older at the time of the offense, the punishment “shall be either death or imprisonment for life without eligibility for probation or parole, or release except by act of the governor.”

Second Degree Murder charges may stem from three situations.

  • The accused “knowingly” caused someone’s death.
  • The accused purposefully caused serious injury that resulted in death. 
  • The victim was killed as the result of a felony crime being carried or attempted.

Second Degree Murder is also a class A felony.

Missouri manslaughter charges

Manslaughter charges in Missouri are considered “voluntary” or “involuntary.”

Voluntary manslaughter charges occur when the circumstances would ordinarily be second-degree murder, but the death was caused “under the influence of sudden passion arising from an adequate cause.” Voluntary manslaughter is a class B felony.

First-degree involuntary manslaughter occurs if the defendant “recklessly cause[d] the death of another person.” This is a class C felony, but charges may be enhanced if the victim was targeted due to their relationship with or affinity to a police officer.

Second-degree involuntary manslaughter happens when the accused acted “with criminal negligence to cause the death of any person.” This is a class E felony charge. But as with first-degree involuntary manslaughter, enhanced charges can result if the victim was targeted due to their relationship or affinity to a police officer.  

Anyone charged with murder or manslaughter should contact an experienced criminal law firm. The ramifications of a conviction are long-lasting.