27 October 2012
When one human being kills another, they have committed homicide. But contrary to belief, homicide is not limited to murder. Murder is a form of criminal homicide, and other forms of homicide may not result in criminal prosecution. What usually determines the type of homicide is the intent of the killer. (http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/homicide)
Under early English law, homicide was classified into two categories: felonious and non-felonious. Felonious homicide included premeditated attempts, and successions of homicide, and was classified as murder. Non-felonious homicide included justifiable homicide, and excusable homicide. Justifiable homicide was still considered criminal, but was usually pardoned. Excusable homicide was not considered a crime. U.S. courts adopted the English law and added a few modifications. Felonious (criminal) homicide now consists of murder and manslaughter. (Torcia, Charles E. 1994. Wharton's Criminal Law. 15th ed. New York: Clark, Boardman, Callaghan.) Murder is separated into first and second degrees. Murder in the first degree is murder that is planned and premeditated. Murder in the second degree is murder that is committed that had no prior plans. Manslaughter is the murder of someone that was not planned, premeditated or intended. An example would be a DUI in which a passenger is killed. In most states the killing of a fetus is not considered homicide unless it is first born alive. In some states however, this distinction is disregarded. (Kadish, Sanfor H., ed. 1983. Encyclopedia of Crime and Justice. Vol. 2. New York: Free Press) A justifiable homicide is an act of killing that is authorized. In times of war a soldier may be commanded to kill the enemy- this is a justifiable homicide and is not criminal, or punishable. And excusable homicide is an act of killing that is done under understandable circumstances. In example, if one person kills another...