crime of killing of a human being by another human being, less serious than murder

Manslaughter is the crime of killing a person. When a person is killed, lawyers look at the reasons and motives why this person was killed. If the death of a person is not on purpose, but the killer did something that resulted in the death of a person, this is usually called manslaughter. It is less serious than if a person were killed on purpose (sometimes with planning involved), which is called murder. Killing someone in self-defence may be manslaughter. Depending on the circumstances, killing in self-defence may be no crime at all. Negligent homicide is an even lesser crime.

Manslaughter is a relatively new legal concept. It was first mentioned in an English statute in 1547, but was interpreted very loosely and not earnestly enforced, instead usually charging with murder. Very few countries had manslaughter on their books until the latter half of the 20th century. No jurisdiction in the United States had manslaughter on its books until the 20th century. England and the United States were the first two countries to introduce manslaughter into their laws.

Laws change