What Is The Difference Between Murder & Manslaughter?

Murder and manslaughter are both considered types of homicide and involve ending someone's life. Many people think "murder" and "manslaughter" are essentially the same thing. However, these two terms are widely contrasting regarding the killer's mindset, motives, and penalties.

The main difference between these two criminal acts is that it depends on the circumstance of the homicide, whether it was an intentional or unintentional act. Read on to learn the legal consequences of each.


Murder is defined as:

(1) Intentionally causing the death of another person;

(2) Causing the death of another person by recklessly engaging in conduct which creates a grave risk of death to another person under conditions manifesting extreme indifference to human life; or

(3) Causing the death of another person, whether intentional or not, during the furtherance of or in immediate flight from any felony which is clearly dangerous to human life (such as robbery, arson, burglary, kidnapping, etc.).


Manslaughter is defined as:

(1) Recklessly causing the death of another person; or

(2) Causing the death of another person under circumstances that would constitute murder; except, that the person causes the death due to a sudden heat of passion caused by provocation recognized by law, and before a reasonable time for the passion to cool and for reason to reassert itself.

Legal Consequences

One of the main differences between manslaughter and murder is the penalties and criminal sentences. Murder is a Class A Felony in Alabama, while manslaughter is a Class B Felony. Therefore, the legal consequence for manslaughter is typically less than that of murder.

As a Class A Felony, murder carries a potential sentence of 10 years to life in prison. However, if a firearm or deadly weapon was used or attempted to be used, the minimum sentence becomes 20 years imprisonment. Also be aware that there are circumstances which elevate murder to capital murder, which can result in the death penalty.

As a Class B Felony, manslaughter carries a potential sentence of 2 to 20 years imprisonment.

In addition to any term of incarceration, Alabama law provides that a sentence to pay a fine for a felony can also be ordered by the court. Any such fine must be for a definite amount, fixed by the court, within the following limitations:

(1) For a Class A felony, not more than $60,000;

(2) For a Class B felony, not more than $30,000.

Whether you are facing murder or manslaughter charges, it is crucial to seek the help of a skilled criminal defense attorney.

Contact a Birmingham Criminal Defense Attorney

At Revill Law Firm, our team is aware of the severity of a murder charge and the type of life-altering, stressful consequences involved in a conviction. We are here to provide you with aggressive, dedicated legal defense regardless of your circumstances. With several years of legal experience, we strive to help our clients get the best outcome possible for their case.

Contact us today at (205) 928-6544 to find out how we can help you.