What's the difference between murder and homicide?

Sep 13, 2014, 04:40 IST | Agencies

After Oscar Pistorius was found guilty of homicide but acquitted of murder, we look at the difference between the two charges

Three degrees of separation

. Murder
Murder is the premeditated killing of another human being. Pistorius has been acquitted of this charge since the South African prosecutors could not prove that he fired the four shots with the intent to kill knowing fully well that Reeva was behind the bathroom door.

Judge's Verdict: The state has not proved beyond reasonable doubt that the accused is guilty of premeditated murder. There are just not enough facts to support such a finding.

Dolus eventualis
Dolus eventualis murder, also known as common murder, is a lesser charge and means that a person is responsible for the foreseeable consequences of his/her actions. As per South Africa’s law, a person can be held guilty of common murder if he/she objectively foresees the possibility of his or her act causing death and persists regardless of the consequences. Pistorius has been acquitted of this charge as well since the State was unable to prove this charge.

Judge's Verdict: The accused had the intention to shoot at the person behind the door, not to kill — the evidence failed to prove the accused had intention.

Culpable homicide
Culpable homicide is the unlawful and negligent killing of another person. Pistorius has been found guilty on this count.

Judge's Verdict: The accused had reasonable time to reflect, to think and conduct himself reasonably. The accused knew that there was a person behind the door, he chose to use a firearm which was a lethal weapon, was competent in the use of firearms as he had received training. The accused acted too hastily and used excessive force. It is clear that his conduct was negligent.

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