The Legal Difference Between Homicide & Murder

We frequently hear the terms “murder” and “homicide” used interchangeably, particularly on television. As a result, very few people understand the difference between the two, which could be vitally important if you ever find yourself facing charges of one of these violent crimes.


The simplest possible definition for the crime of “homicide” is simply “taking the life of another person.” This can come in any form, including pre-meditated and brutal killings, accidental deaths as a result of recklessness, or even self-defense killings. The latter of which demonstrates the primary difference between homicide and murder: homicides can be justifiable.

If you kill someone in a genuine act of self-defense, then no crime has been committed. Because the act must be recorded, it will go into the public record as a “justifiable homicide,” but you will face no criminal charges nor have any marks on your history from it. However, because self-defense actions must be proven and are rarely straight-forward, it is still strongly advised that you seek dedicated counsel from a Noblesville criminal defense attorney before facing this in court.


To put it simply, murder is known as “criminal homicide.” In other words, taking the life of someone else in a way that cannot be justified as reasonable is considered murder, and carries extremely heavy penalties, including the possibility of the death penalty.

In the state of Indiana, there are three different degrees of criminal homicide:

  • Murder: taking someone’s life with pre-meditated, malicious forethought and intent.
  • Voluntary Manslaughter: taking someone’s life without pre-meditated intent, but with an intentional action, including heat-of-passion actions.
  • Involuntary Manslaughter: taking someone’s life as a result of a non-felony criminal act or a legal act done with criminal levels of negligence

Depending on your exact circumstances, your charges and associated penalties could vary. A skilled criminal defense attorney from The Criminal Defense Team may be able to help you. Our team has assisted numerous individuals with serious crime charges, including ten murder cases. Trust your case to a Board Certified Criminal Law Specialist and get top-rated legal counsel on your side.