Michigan Homicide Charges

Homicide is the unlawful killing of one person by another. There are various degrees of homicide that can be charged in Michigan, each more serious than the next. Homicide cases are incredibly complicated and difficult, as one false move could result in a sentence of life in prison, without parole. Because of the utmost seriousness of a homicide charge, it is critical that anyone charged with homicide retains experienced murder defense lawyers immediately.

First Degree Murder

Murder 1 is the most serious charge that can be brought in Michigan. If convicted of First Degree Murder, a defendant is required by law to serve the rest of their life in prison, without the possibility of parole. Murder 1 charges fall into two categories: (1) premeditated murder, and (2) felony murder. Each of these different kinds of murder contain separate elements, but both of them can meet the requirements of Murder 1.

Second Degree Murder

Second Degree Murder is also punishable by life in prison, but unlike Murder 1 it is not mandatory that a defendant serve natural life. Murder 2 may be punishable by any term of years set by the court. The elements of Murder 2 can be somewhat confusing because there are multiple “intent levels” that can sustain a conviction for Murder two.

The basic elements that need to be proved – beyond a reasonable bount – in order to be convicted of Murder 2 are:


A death took place.

Point Two

That the death was caused by an act of the defendant.


That the defendant acted with malice.

Point Two

That the defendant was without justification or excuse.

In order to establish “malice”, the prosecutor must show that the defendant either:


Intended to kill.

Point Two

Intent to commit great bodily harm.


Intent to create a very high risk of death or great bodily harm with the knowledge that death or great bodily harm is the probable result.


Manslaughter is a crime that is punishable by 15 years in prison. It is often described as murder that occurs “in the heat of passion.” It is a killing that it without malice and without premeditation. Because of the split second during which premeditation can take place, it takes a skilled attorney to argue a Murder 1 or 2 charge down to Manslaughter.

Involuntary Manslaughter

An Involuntary Manslaughter conviction, like that of Manslaughter, can result in a sentence of 15 years in prison. As the name indicates, in order to be convicted of Involuntary Manslaughter, the prosecutor must prove that a killing took place, without malice and unintentionally, but took place while the defendant was doing some unlawful act not amounting to felony nor naturally tending to cause death or great bodily harm, or in negligently doing some act lawful in itself, or in negligently omitting to perform legal duty. More simply, Involuntary Manslaughter is an accidental killing.

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