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The Legal Difference Between Murder & Homicide

 Posted on June 09, 2017 in Criminal Defense

Are you a fan of crime dramas or court TV shows? While some of them have been lauded for their ability to show what life is like on the police force, others have unquestionably taken a few creative liberties with the process in order to up the entertainment value. We often find this leads to some myths about the nature of criminal law, such as the terms “murder” and “homicide,” which we find some shows use interchangeably. This is a mistake: there is a difference between these terms, and that difference could radically change your case should you ever find yourself facing charges.


In a legal sense, the term “homicide” indicates any situation in which someone’s action directly causes the loss of life of another. This can include everything from drunk and reckless driving causing a fatal car accident to a robbery gone south and a victim being killed in the escape attempt to a police officer acting in the line of duty and shooting a suspect who is threatening to harm others.

This highlights an important difference: homicide can be justifiable. The law does allow for those in life or death situations to kill another in order to save their life or the life of their loved ones, and when this happens, the public record simply shows that a justifiable homicide occurred. However, if no charges are brought forward then the individual who killed out of self-defense is usually allowed to go back to their normal life.


Since “homicide” covers all instances of lost life due to the actions of another, “murder” would therefore be a type of homicide. The big difference is that murder is never justifiable. Murder charges are brought forward when someone knowingly and willfully causes the death of another individual, usually through deliberate or knowingly risky actions.

Murder comes in a few different forms in Texas. When most people think of murder, they think of First Degree murder charges, which involve pre-meditation, planning, and willful knowledge of their actions. In Texas, this can even go a step further and become Capital Murder, which is essentially a more severe form of First Degree murder, and allows prosecutors to seek the death penalty for a conviction.

Second Degree murder charges do not involve pre-meditation. They do still involve willful actions and intent, but don’t necessarily have pre-meditation or planning, such as when someone gets in an argument with another person and in the heat of the moment pulls out a gun and shoots them.

If you are facing charges of murder or another homicide crime, don’t hesitate to seek legal assistance. Call a Plano criminal defense lawyer from The Crowder Law Firm, P.C. today at 214-544-0061 to request a case evaluation.

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