Difference Between Murder and Homicide

The terms murder and homicides are often used when we talk about the death of a person who is not natural or has the involvement of another human being in one way or the other. Many use these terms, replacing them with each other, but when seen in terms of law, both these words carry a very different meaning.

Murder vs Homicide

The main difference between murder and homicide is that both murder and crime involve the death of an individual, but murder is awful. It points to the death of a person due to the interference of other people. It generally involves a lot of planning and tactics. On the other hand, homicide is the act of killing a person, but this could have exceptional reasons. The killing could be made for safety, self-defence, or any other reasons for which the law permits.

Murder is a serious and horrible crime. No one in this world has the permission of taking someone else’s life. This is crime involves taking the life of a person from greed, jealousy, individual differences, property, hatred, etc. Such crimes are taken seriously, and the criminals are given serious punishments according to different rules of different countries.

Homicide is a term used to define the death of a person which involves any other individual directly or indirectly. This term is, however, not considered offensive or a crime. This is because homicide killing involves various reasons due to which an individual may take the act of killing a person. This could be for the safety of a large number of people or in the case of the protection of an innocent being.

Comparison Table Between Murder and Homicide

Parameters of ComparisonMurderHomicide
CategoryIt is a sub-category of murder.It defines the unnatural death of a human being due to another human being.
PunishmentIt has a harsh punishment,It may or may not have a punishment.
CrimeIt is a horrible crime.It may or may not be a crime.
TacticsIt is usually pre-planned. It may or may not be pre-planned.
TypeIt is very serious in nature.It may or may not be serious in nature.

What is Murder?

Murder could be referred to as an awful abusive crime. It is totally considered a very big crime in the eye of the law. We often see different cases of murders in our local newspapers or television channels. Various reasons could be involved in murdering an individual. Many of these reasons include hatred, revenge, jealousy, greed, rape, thrill, etc.

Whatever may be the reason killing an individual for personal gain can never be considered normal. No one in the world has a right to take someone else’s life—different countries categories a murder case in various ways. Countries like Canada and the US divide murder into three wide categories that include 1st-degree murder, 2nd-degree murder, and 3rd-degree murder. All these types of murders have very harsh punishment, which could include life-long imprisonment or hang to death punishments.

Many countries still have followed the punishment of hanging the murderer till death. Many countries have removed such punishments and replaced them with lifelong imprisonment. China is considered to have the hardest punishment for murder which is the execution of the murderer. Murder is generally done after a lot of planning and research.

Very few cases have a record of murders which is done in the heat of the moment. Most murderers develop extreme hate towards a person that they do not want that individual to be a part of the world. There have been several types of research on the mindset of murderers all around the world. These murderers end up destroying both theirs and other’s life.

What is Homicide?

Homicide has a clear meaning. It involves an individual killing another individual. However, it could only be proved to be a crime when an investigation is done. Homicide has a wide meaning. It is further divided into two smaller types that is murder and manslaughter. These two types of homicide give a more clear vision of the type of crime taking place.

A homicide could be both legal or illegal. An example could be a police officer killing an individual who may be a serious threat to the public. This killing is permitted by the law as it is important for the safety of innocent citizens. This could be a legal homicide.

However, if a man kills his family member for the sake of property is an example of horrible and illegal homicide. Hence a homicide is not always a punishable crime as it could take place for the well-being of the public.

Murders that are not planned and take place in the heat of the moment, which could be as self-defence or an accident that included mistakes of both parties, also come under homicide. However, these non-intentional crimes may be given less durational punishments. Overall, homicide has a wide variety of situations and cases.

Main Differences Between Murder and Homicide

  1. The term murder is used to describe a crime without any investigation needed, whereas homicide may or may not be a crime. Only after a proper investigation or research it could be declared a crime.
  2. Murder is a type of homicide, whereas homicide is a wide term having murder as its sub-category
  3. Murder is more horrible than that of a homicide which could involve less serious crimes.
  4. Murder has a serious punishment, whereas homicide may or may not have a punishment involved.
  5. Murders are generally planned, whereas homicide generally occurs in the heat of the moment.


Both murder and homicide involve the killing of a human being by another human being. However, these terms cannot be used interchangeably as they carry a different meaning in terms of the law. When a person has an unnatural death due to the involvement of another human being, it is a homicide. However, when a homicide becomes intentional, it is murder.


  1. https://www.taylorfrancis.com/books/mono/10.4324/9781843926399/murder-shani-cruze-sandra-walklate-samantha-pegg
  2. https://psycnet.apa.org/record/1932-03281-000

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