The way that the law distinguishes the killing of another human being might not make sense to all New York residents. There is a legal distinction between the definitions of homicide and murder even though many people use the two terms interchangeably. All murders are homicides, but it is important to know that not all homicides are murders.
The simple definition of homicide is the killing of another human being. From there, illegal homicides are broken down into the two major categories of murder and manslaughter. In general, murders occur when the crime is intentional. From there, the question of premeditation (prior planning) often separates first-degree murder from second-degree murder. The crime of manslaughter implies that the alleged perpetrator did not set out to kill anyone, yet a person is dead because of his or her actions.
It should also be noted that there are some homicides that are not considered to be illegal. For instance, everyone has the right to defend him or herself from harm, and sometimes doing so ends with the death of another person. In some cases, lethal force is justified when defending another person from becoming the victim of a violent crime, such as rape, murder or robbery. Under these circumstances, the homicide could be considered legal.
Being accused of committing a homicide can be a frightening experience and could result in serious penalties if New York prosecutors secure a conviction. Anyone accused of homicide (whether murder or manslaughter) has the right to be presumed innocent until and unless found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. Furthermore, the right to present a defense to the charges is also guaranteed. It is not advisable to attempt to go through the court process alone.