Homicide, Murder, and Manslaughter Charges in Georgia

In our criminal justice system “homicide” is a broad umbrella term which encompasses different types of specific crimes. Homicide is generally defined as the killing of another person without justification or defense. This blog article aims to explore the different types of homicides under Georgia law.

 

Murder

 

O.C.G.A. § 16-5-1 sets out the ways a person can commit the offense of murder and second-degree murder.

 

  • A person commits the offense of murder when he unlawfully and with malice aforethought, either express or implied, causes the death of another human being.

 

Express malice is that deliberate intention unlawfully to take the life of another human being which is manifested by external circumstances capable of proof. Malice shall be implied where no considerable provocation appears and where all the circumstances of the killing show an abandoned and malignant heart.

 

  • A person commits the offense of murder when, in the commission of a felony, he or she causes the death of another human being irrespective of malice.

 

This is also referred to as “felony murder.”

 

  • A person commits the offense of murder in the second degree when, in the commission of cruelty to children in the second degree, he or she causes the death of another human being irrespective of malice.

 

Punishment if Convicted

 

A person convicted of the offense of murder shall be punished by death, by imprisonment for life without parole, or by imprisonment for life. A person convicted of the offense of murder in the second degree shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than ten nor more than 30 years.

 

Manslaughter

 

In Georgia, manslaughter can be either voluntary or involuntary.

 

Under O.C.G.A. § 16-5-2, a person commits the offense of voluntary manslaughter when he causes the death of another human being under circumstances which would otherwise be murder and if he acts solely as the result of a sudden, violent, and irresistible passion resulting from serious provocation sufficient to excite such passion in a reasonable person; however, if there should have been an interval between the provocation and the killing sufficient for the voice of reason and humanity to be heard, of which the jury in all cases shall be the judge, the killing shall be attributed to deliberate revenge and be punished as murder.

 

Essentially, the law recognizes that a person can become so inflamed by passion or provoked to a certain degree that it negates the mental state of “malice” found in murder charges. Because there is no malice, a jury is authorized to convict a person on the lesser offense of voluntary manslaughter.

 

Examples of sufficient provocation or irresistible passion have been held to include adultery (Raines v. State, 247 Ga. 504 (1981)) and battered person syndrome (Paslay v. State, 285 Ga. 616 (2009)). Evidence of anger alone is not sufficient to set aside malice. It is also important to note there can not be a “cooling off” period between the provoking act and the killing.

 

A person who commits the offense of voluntary manslaughter, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than one nor more than 20 years.

 

Pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 16-5-3, A person commits the offense of involuntary manslaughter in the commission of an unlawful act when he causes the death of another human being without any intention to do so by the commission of an unlawful act other than a felony.

 

In the situation of an unlawful act, upon conviction thereof, the person shall be convicted of a felony and punished by imprisonment for not less than one year nor more than ten years.

 

A person also commits the offense of involuntary manslaughter in the commission of a lawful act in an unlawful manner when he causes the death of another human being without any intention to do so, by the commission of a lawful act in an unlawful manner likely to cause death or great bodily harm.

 

Here, during the commission of a lawful act in an unlawful manner, upon conviction thereof, the person shall be punished as a misdemeanor.

 

Contact Us

 

Homicides are investigated aggressively by law enforcement. These crimes are extremely serious. If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime involving the death or another, please contact our office today at 404-581-0999 for a free consultation.

Homicide in Georgia: Blood

Does it matter in Georgia criminal defense that the victim in a murder case was impaired on drugs or alcohol at the time he was killed?

Yes and no. 

In all homicide cases, pursuant to the Georgia Death Investigation Act, a Georgia medical examiner will perform an autopsy for potential prosecution.  Six of Georgia’s 189 counties have their own medical examiner’s offices including Gwinnett, Cobb, DeKalb and Fulton.  In all other counties in Georgia the individual counties contract with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to perform their examinations.

What’s the procedure?

In almost all cases the medical examiner will draw central blood, urine and vitreous fluid from the body of the decedent.  However, the medical examiner will not order the bodily fluids to be tested by the forensic toxicology division for impairment.  Further, you must be aware, in a homicide case the GBI will hold the specimens for only 24 months before destroying them.  IN order to preserve and test the samples, the GBI will need a copy of a court order or written authorization from the prosecuting agency to test the samples.

Will this be used in court?

Assuming the results come back as showing impairment in the “victim’s” blood the argument over whether they come in depends on relevance.  Generally, a murder victim’s character is not admissible unless there is some connection as to the reason it is coming in.  Generally speaking, an expert’s testimony as to the effects of the impairing substance will be necessary.

Call us today if you or someone you love has been charged with Murder in the state of Georgia. We would love to meet with you for free. Our number is 404-581-0999.