The Difference Between Murder And Manslaughter In New York

By Michael Joseph on October 16, 2010

The difference between a murder conviction and a manslaughter conviction can mean a drastic difference in the amount of prison time that a New York criminal defendant receives.

Under New York law, a person is guilty of second-degree murder when, with intent to cause the death of another person, he or she causes the death of that person under Penal Law 125.25[1]. A person is guilty of second-degree manslaughter when he or she “recklessly causes the death of another person” under New York Penal Law 125.15[1]). A person acts “intentionally” when his or her conscious objective is to cause death under New York Penal Law 15.05[1]), and a person acts “recklessly” when he or she “is aware of and consciously disregards a substantial and unjustifiable risk that [death] will occur.

Manslaughter is a lesser included offense of the murder charge. New York criminal defense lawyers must be familiar with these distinctions and what is required to get a lesser included offense jury instruction.

A defendant is entitled to have the jury consider a lesser included offense of a charged count by showing that the offense is a “lesser included offense” of the charged crime and that a reasonable view of the evidence supports a finding that the defendant committed the lesser crime but not the greater.

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