Under Pennsylvania Law, Criminal Homicide is broken down into two types of killing:  Murder and Manslaughter.  Which crime you allegedly committed depends on your intent, preparation, the type of injury inflicted, and the type of weapon you used.  For a definition of each of those elements see 18 PACS 2301 and 18 PACS 2501.  Below, I will cover the different types of Murder and Manslaughter.


The Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, found at 18 PACS 2502, breaks Murder into three different types:

  1. Murder in the First Degree:  This is when the Prosecution proves beyond a reasonable doubt that you intended to kill someone, when another statute specifically says it is first degree, or when the conviction for your criminal homicide must be come with death or to a term of life imprisonment.
  2. Murder in the Second Degree:  This is murder while you were engaged in committing, or preparing to commit, another felony; is a statute designates your homicide as second degree, or if you convictions carries a term of life imprisonment.
  3. Murder in the Third Degree:  This is generally all other kinds of murder, killing done with malice, when designated by statute, or when a conviction carries a sentence of no more than 40 years in prison.


There are two types of Manslaughter provided for at 18 PACS 2503 and 18PACS 2504:

  • Voluntary Manslaughter:  The killing of another without lawful justification (like self-defense) under a sudden and intense passion resulting from serious provocation by: (i) the individual killed, or (ii) another whom the actor endeavors to kill, but instead negligently or accidentally causes the death of the individual killed.  Voluntary Manslaughter is a felony.
  • Involuntary Manslaughter:  The death of another as a direct result of your reckless or grossly negligent act, regardless of whether the act was lawful or unlawful.   Involuntary manslaughter is a misdemeanor unless the victim is under 12 years of age and in your care, custody, or control.

Outside of Murder and Manslaughter, there are two additional Homicide crimes specifically defined in the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes.

  1. Homicide by Vehicle:  You are guilty of Homicide by Vehicle if the Prosecution proves that you recklessly or with gross negligence, caused the death of another while violating any state or municipal law regarding the operation or use of a vehicle or the regulation of traffic, and the violating is the cause of death.  75 PACS 3732.  Homicide by Vehicle is a felony.
  2. Homicide by Drug Delivery:  You are guilty of Murder in the Third Degree is you administer, dispense, prescribe, sell, or distribute any controlled substance or counterfeit controlled substance in violation of the Controlled Substance, Drug, Device, and Cosmetic Act.  18 PACS 2506.

What Should You Do Now?

If you have been charged with murder or manslaughter, you can bet that the Prosecution is not going to let your case be dismissed.  That means you are looking at a trial in your near future.  You best option is to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney to take on your case.  Give me a call at (412) 209-0657 so that work can begin right away.