homicide vs murder

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What is the difference between 'homicide' and 'murder'? Is there a difference in British and American usage with regard to this term?
Thanks in advance.
Veteran Member8,073
Hi,

What is the difference between 'homicide' and 'murder'? Is there a difference in British and American usage with regard to this term?

A lawyer should really answer this. I'm not a lawyer, but here are a couple of comments.

homicide - Focuses on the killing of a human being, in the same way that 'fratricide' focuses on killing one's brother, 'suicide' on killing one's self, etc. Homicide is not necessarily a crime. If a police officer kills someone who shoots first at him, this is not illegal, not murder. 'Justifiable homicide' is the phrase I often hear.

murder - Focuses on the unlawful killing of a human being. Involves some degree of premeditation or intention (first degree and second degree murder, murder in cold blood or in hot blood). Careless, accidental killing is 'manslaughter' rather than 'murder'.

I look forward to a lawyer's more detailed explanation.

Best wishes, Clive
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Hi Clive

Thanks for the explanation. I agree with what you've said. What prompted me to ask this question is because my student asked me for the definition of 'homicide'. After explaining to him, I referred to his dictionary to make sure, and was surprised by what I read. It states that 'homicide' is AmE and 'murder' is BrE or maybe the other way round. I cannot remember which is which.

Clivehomicide - Focuses on the killing of a human being, in the same way that 'fratricide' focuses on killing one's brother, 'suicide' on killing one's self, etc. Homicide is not necessarily a crime. If a police officer kills someone who shoots first at him, this is not illegal, not murder. 'Justifiable homicide' is the phrase I often hear.

murder - Focuses on the unlawful killing of a human being. Involves some degree of premeditation or intention (first degree and second degree murder, murder in cold blood or in hot blood). Careless, accidental killing is 'manslaughter' rather than 'murder'.

Same usage here in the U.S.
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As I understand it, "homicide" is the blanket term for any form of unlawful killing.

Within homicide are sub-terms : murder [killing with malice - planned and intentional killing] and manslaughter [unlawful killing without malice or premeditation] or culpable homicide [used in Scotland - killing as the result of improper conduct].

Recent legislation has made changes to these definitions, but essentially you can say that homicide and murder are synonymous.
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In Singapore, if someone is found guilty of murder, he or she will be sentenced to death by hanging.
In the case of 'homicide', it will be a long prison term.
It seems that in Singapore, the term "homicide" is being used where in Britain we would use either manslaughter or culpable homicide.
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The answer of the original question depends on the jurisdictions. In some jurisdictions homocide includes various murders like falony murder and capital murder and therefore it is the wider term, which explains why they are used sometimes synonymosly. Maybe you should limit the question to Singapore or to the further jurisdictions of interest? In Germany they are not synonym but it would take too long to explainEmotion: smile
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In Singapore, I read in the newspaper "culpable homicide not amounting to murder". Is this term used in America or Britain?
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