Murder and Nonnegligent Manslaughter | Definition

Doc's CJ Glossary by Adam J. McKee
Course: Introduction

Murder and Nonnegligent Manslaughter are two distinct criminal offenses defined by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in the Uniform Crime Reports (UCR) program, which is a national system for collecting crime data from law enforcement agencies across the United States.

Murder is defined as the unlawful killing of a human being with malice aforethought, either express or implied. Malice aforethought means the intent to kill or cause serious harm to another person. This offense includes both premeditated murder and murder that occurs during the commission of another felony, such as robbery or burglary.

Nonnegligent Manslaughter is defined as the unlawful killing of a human being without malice aforethought. Unlike murder, this offense does not require intent to kill or cause serious harm. Instead, it may result from reckless behavior, such as drunk driving, or from a sudden, heat-of-the-moment altercation where the offender did not intend to kill the victim but caused their death nonetheless.

The distinction between murder and nonnegligent manslaughter is important because it can affect the severity of the charges and the potential penalties for the offender. Murder is generally considered a more serious offense than nonnegligent manslaughter and can result in a longer prison sentence or even the death penalty in some cases.

Both murder and nonnegligent manslaughter are included in the FBI’s UCR program and are reported separately in the annual Crime in the United States report, which provides data on crime trends and patterns across the country.

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Last Modified: 03/10/2023


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