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Violent Crime: Crime Against a Person

Crimes Against Individuals

Homicide and murder both mean the killing of one human being by another. While in conversation, Americans commonly use the words murder and homicide as if they were the same, but homicide has a broader definition than murder. Homicide includes both murder and legally "justifiable" killing. The law recognizes that not all killings are criminal. The classic example is killing in war when the victim is part of an enemy force.

The law also recognizes killing in self-defense as justifiable or acceptable homicide. When a person is threatened with serious injury or death but manages to kill the attacker, he or she has killed in self-defense. Likewise if a law enforcement officer should kill an individual who is in the process of committing a felony (serious) crime, the killing is considered justifiable homicide. On the other hand, murder is not justifiable homicide but criminal homicide. Murder is an unlawful or illegal killing of another human being.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationCrime and Criminal LawViolent Crime: Crime Against a Person - Crimes Against Individuals, Hate Crime, Robbery, Aggravated Assault, Forcible Rape, Stalking, "three Strikes" Laws