Understanding the Difference Between Murder and Homicide

Criminal law has various legal terms, and sometimes there are certain words that are used interchangeably. Two such words are murder and homicide, which are used interchangeably, but in the realm of criminal law, these words have different meanings. We must be aware of the meaning of these two terms. So, in this article, we will discuss the meaning and essence of the words murder and homicide. 

If you are stuck in any case related to criminal law or any of your associates are charged with murder, this article will provide some foundational knowledge about criminal law terms. So, let’s begin our discussion about murder and homicide in this article. 

What is homicide?

Homicide is a comprehensive term in which there is involvement in one person’s death due to another person. It is derived from the Latin words homi and cide, which mean man and cut, respectively. The term homicide literally means killing a human being due to another human being. 

It refers to a legal term that states that any killing of one person by another, even when it is legally justified, does not consider the intent of killing. Homicides can be classified into various categories on the basis of their intent, circumstances, and legality. 

What is murder? 

Murder can be considered a subset of homicide, in which there is the intentional killing of another person with malice aforethought. Murder is one of the serious crimes in criminal law, and it is classified based on intent and other circumstances. Malice, though in legal terms, signifies that there is a deliberate and premeditated intent to kill. 

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What is the key difference between murder and homicide? 

  • Intent: Homicide is a broader term that encompasses all instances of killing another person. It covers killings which were intentional, negligent or accidental. However, murder refers to a killing which was deliberate and premeditated intent to kill.
  • Classification: Homicide includes classification from seld-defense to involuntary manslaughter. However, murder, which is itself a subcategory of homicide, is categorised as wilful and unlawful killing with malice. 
  • Severity of Punishment: The punishment for murder and homicide. In this case, murder is punished more severely than homicide. It is because murder is done with intended malice, which is not always the case in homicide. 

So, this is the basic difference between murder and homicide, which you should understand in criminal law. 

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