Types of Georgia Murder & Homicide Charges: An Overview
Georgia law does not distinguish between “degrees” of murder charges (such as first-degree or second-degree murder). Instead, the criminal statutes differentiate between:
Felony murder charges (O.C.G.A. 16-5-1)
Usually filed in cases when the homicide allegedly involved “malice aforethought” (meaning that the killing was planned and intentional) or when the homicide occurred in the commission of some other inherently dangerous felony offense (such as a robbery or arson, for instance). Upon conviction, felony murder charges can be punishable by life in prison or even death, depending on the circumstances of the case.
Voluntary manslaughter charges (O.C.G.A. 16-5-2)
Typically filed in cases when the homicide was allegedly intentional and resulted from some sudden, serious provocation that would be sufficient to rattle a “reasonable” person. Upon conviction, voluntary manslaughter charges can be punishable by up to 20 years in prison.
Involuntary manslaughter charges (O.C.G.A. 16-5-3)
Generally filed in cases when the homicide was accidental and unintentional but allegedly resulted from some form of reckless or negligent behavior. Upon conviction, involuntary manslaughter charges can be punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
Defending the Accused against Murder & Homicide Charges
Although homicide charges and the associated penalties are incredibly serious, there can be a number of defense options in these cases, only some of which may include (but may not be exclusive to) arguing or establishing that:
- The homicide resulted from a necessary act of self-defense.
- Witnesses misidentified the accused as the perpetrator.
- There was serious provocation/the act was committed in the “heat of passion.”
- There is enough reasonable doubt that someone else could have committed the offense.