What are the legal different between murder and manslaughter?
Murder and manslaughter are a very confusing terms in criminal law. This post aim to clear that confusion.

Here i will breakdown every important detail about murder and manslaughter so as you can have a clear understanding about the two.

    Murder Vs Manslaughter 

    Murder is the one of the popular offense. Its history can be traced far back from the origin of human civilization. Murder is termed to be against the law of man and the law of God. 

    On another hand, manslaughter might not be a new term to you (I will explain it in the course of showing the difference). 

    It is something closely related to the murder. What differentiates murder and manslaughter in the eyes of law? I urge you to read further to find the answer.

    Difference between murder and manslaughter 

    The major difference between murder and manslaughter in the eyes of the law can be spotted in their meaning, ingredients, punishment, and other legal issues like bail as follows;

    Meaning and ingredients of Murder and Manslaughter

    In technical terms murder is causing the death of another with malice aforethought by an unlawful act or omission. 

    In simple terms, murder is killing with intention. While Manslaughter is causing the death of another by an unlawful act or omission without malice aforethought. 

    In simple terms, manslaughter is killing with no intention.

    Therefore the first difference between manslaughter and murder is the absence of malice aforethought/intention in manslaughter and presence of it is murder.

    The question which might come to your mind now is how can a person kill without an intention? In the eyes of the law, it is possible.

    A person is termed to kill without malice aforethought in the following circumstances

    >When a person kill out of the disease of mind/insanity
    >When a person kill under duress/coercion
    >When a person Kill under the influence of drugs/intoxication
    > When a person kill out of provocation

    I have covered about insanity, duress, intoxication, and provocation on Criminal law defenses that you may raise in a criminal case

    Generally, the line between murder and manslaughter is very narrow. That line is drawn by ascertaining the intention of the offender. The intention of the offender can be obtained by looking at the circumstance of the offense.

    When A intentionally wants to kill B by shooting. Accidently B escape and the bullet shot C and died. Here A will be liable for the Murder of C regardless of his intention was to kill B.

     it doesn’t matter whether the person intended to be killed is the one actually killed or not. This situation is technically known as ‘the Doctrine of Transferred Malice’.

    The above example emphasizes the importance of intention in the offense of murder and manslaughter.

    Manslaughter can be voluntary or involuntary:

    Voluntary Manslaughter consists of those homicides which would have been murder but are in fact manslaughter because the accused was either provoked or was party to the killing in pursuance of a suicide pact.

    What constitute involuntary manslaughter is not clear and it must be approached with caution e.g. negligence, recklessness etc.

    Punishment of Murder and Manslaughter

    This is the second thing that differentiates murder and manslaughter. The punishment of Murder is death by hanging while the punishment of Manslaughter maybe imprisonment for certain years or for life. 

    However, the death penalty has received mass critics and some countries have abolished it.

    Bail on  Murder and Manslaughter

    In Tanzania and in most common law countries Murder is not bailable but manslaughter is bailable.


    This article revealed the major difference between murder and manslaughter. It explained that the main difference between murder and manslaughter is intention.

    Do you agree with the death penalty? Comment below

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