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Different violent crimes have different consequences

Criminal matters involving death can have severe consequences for those accused. Convictions can mean lengthy prison sentences, fines and a lifelong impact in the form of a criminal record. However, some Massachusetts defendants accused of committing violent crimes -- such as manslaughter or murder -- are unsure of why they have been charged with specific crimes, which can complicate matters when it comes to preparing a defense.

Although sometimes used interchangeably, manslaughter and murder are not the same thing. Manslaughter charges can fall on a scale, with involuntary manslaughter being on the lowest side and voluntary on the highest. An involuntary manslaughter charge indicates that the defendant is believed to have accidentally killed someone through reckless or negligent behavior. Voluntary manslaughter charges are filed when it is believed that the accused had the intent to take another individual's life, but that it was not planned.

Like manslaughter charges, murder allegations can also fall on a scale, with defendants facing either first or second degree charges. First degree charges insinuate that a defendant not only intended to kill another person, but that he or she also planned to do so. Second degree charges are similar to voluntary manslaughter allegations, in that the act is usually not seen as premeditated, but that the defendant had intent.

Defendants cannot adequately prepare their criminal defense without understanding their charges. Anyone charged of a crime in Massachusetts is well advised to take the time to understand the charges and the potential impact on their future in as timely a manner as possible. Most find it helpful to consider their criminal defense options under the guidance of an experienced counsel, which can help them prepare the best possible defense for their unique situation.

Source: FindLaw, "Homicide Definition", Accessed on Oct. 22, 2017

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