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Understanding the types of criminal homicide charges in Hawaii

On Behalf of | Aug 18, 2022 | Criminal Defense

Homicide and murder charges are some of the most serious criminal charges a person can face. There are several types of criminal homicide charges in Hawaii, each with their own set of consequences.

First-degree murder

First-degree murder in Hawaii is a Class A felony which could result in life in prison without parole. You may face first-degree murder charges for intentionally or knowingly causing the death in one of the specific circumstances listed in Hawaii Revised Stat. Sec. 707-701. You may be charged with first-degree murder for the death of:

  • More than one person (same or separate incident)
  • A law enforcement officer
  • A judge or prosecutor
  • A person you knew was a witness in a criminal prosecution (killing must be related to person serving as a witness)

Second-degree murder

In Hawaii, second-degree murder is also a felony and can result in life in prison (with harsher penalties for crimes the court finds to be cruel or heinous). Second-degree murder requires intentionally and knowingly causing the death of a person not covered under the statute for first-degree murder.

Manslaughter (voluntary manslaughter)

Manslaughter in Hawaii is a felony that can result in up to 20 years in prison and is generally seen as less severe than first-degree and second-degree murder. Unlike first-degree and second-degree murder, there is no malice or intent to kill or cause serious bodily harm. Instead, manslaughter includes recklessly causing another person’s death or intentionally causing someone to commit suicide.

If none of the above charges apply, prosecutors may apply negligent homicide charges. These charges can be either Class B or Class C felonies or third-degree misdemeanor, depending on the severity of the crime.

Defending against criminal homicide charges and other charges related to violent crimes can be difficult. Some common defense strategies include proving that you acted out of self-defense or proving that you were somewhere else at the time of the murder and could not have committed the crime. Your attorney will review the facts of your case and come up with a defense strategy that can work for you.