Encyclopedia Article


From the Latin, where "homo" refers to "man" and "cida" refers to "killer," a homicide occurs when one human takes the life of another. It should be noted that there are various types of homicides and not all homicides are illegal. Murder in the first degree is the wrongful murder of another person with both intent and premeditation to kill established as motives prior to the act. Second degree murder is considered a “crime of passion,” meaning that there is no premeditation but there is intent to kill. Manslaughter is the killing of another person but is not considered murder because neither premeditation nor intent are present, although the desire to do bodily harm to another person was part of the motive prior to the act. Involuntary manslaughter, in which neither premeditation, desire to kill, nor commit bodily harm are present. A common example of involuntary manslaughter is a traffic accident cause by people under the influence of drugs or alcohol. There are also legal homicides, which includes killing a person for self-defence or the self-defense of another human being.

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"All shall be equal before the law." Justice graffiti in Cape Town, South Africa, February 15, 2013, photograph by Ben Sutherland is licensed under CC BY.

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