Homicide Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Homicide, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Homicide?

(n) Homicide is the unnatural ending of the life of a person by an act or omission of another person or persons knowingly or otherwise. A homicide becomes a criminal act when it was done with a motive or intention to harm or with a reckless disregard of the safety of others. Suicide is a self executed homicide

History and Meaning of Homicide

The term 'Homicide' finds its roots in the Latin word 'homicidium', which means killing of a human being by another. Homicide refers to the act of ending someone's life, and it is typically used as a legal term. Homicide can be either lawful or unlawful, depending on the circumstances surrounding the incident. For instance, killing someone in self-defense or as part of a lawful execution is considered lawful homicide, while any other act of killing is considered unlawful homicide.

Examples of Homicide

  1. A man shoots and kills his neighbor during an argument over parking. This is an example of unlawful homicide because the shooter did not act in self-defense or with any other lawful justification.
  2. A mother suffocates her infant child to death intentionally. This is also an example of unlawful homicide because the mother intended to harm and kill the child.
  3. A police officer shoots a suspect who is wielding a knife and attempting to attack them. This is an example of lawful homicide because the officer acted in self-defense to protect their own life and the lives of others.

Legal Terms Similar to Homicide

  1. Manslaughter: The act of unlawfully killing another person without premeditation or malice aforethought. It may also refer to a killing that occurs during the commission of a non-felony crime.
  2. Murder: Intentionally and unlawfully causing the death of someone else.
  3. Assault: The act of intentionally placing another person in fear or apprehension of imminent harm or bodily injury. Sometimes, assault can lead to homicide if the victim dies as a result of the assault.