By: Andrew Martinez
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Making Sense of Homicide Terms Under Wisconsin Law
Terms like homicide, manslaughter and murder get thrown around far too often from the mouths of uninformed sources. It’s easy to lose track of the fact that these terms have very specific meanings in Wisconsin criminal law and have differences that can make the difference between whether you will spend life in prison after a conviction.
Intentional homicide describes killing someone on purpose, with first degree requiring causing the death of another with intent to kill. Second degree is the same, except there are mitigating circumstances the State cannot disprove beyond a reasonable doubt, such as adequate provocation, unnecessary defensive force, or coercion. First degree intentional homicide can send you to prison for the rest your life, while second degree intentional homicide carries a prison sentence up to 60 years.
Reckless homicide is analogous to “manslaughter” in that the killing is not intentional. Instead, it is caused by recklessness. First degree reckless homicide carries a penalty as high as 60 years in prison, while second degree reckless homicide carries a 25 year prison sentence and/or a $100,000 fine.
Analogous to “vehicular manslaughter”, vehicular homicide is the taking of a person’s life through negligence or recklessness while driving a motor vehicle. For example, someone who drives recklessly and causes a fatal accident could be charged with vehicular homicide.
If a person or group of people commits a felony that results in a death, they can all be charged with felony murder. For example, if a struggle during an armed robbery results in someone being shot and killed, the entire group committing the robbery will all face the prison time that comes with a felony murder conviction.
All of these charges are serious and can result in lasting consequences. If accused of any type of homicide your best bet is to seek the advice of an experienced criminal defense attorney who can limit your exposure to harsh criminal penalties.