Third Degree Murder and Sentences

Third Degree Murder and Sentences

We find many cases where someone died, but the killing was unintentional. Maybe they were doing something risky, the person who killed another person was not aware of the risks, or accidentally killed someone. These cases can be considered “third-degree murder”. In this article, we will learn about third degree murder and the punishment for it.

What is Third Degree Murder?

“Third-degree murder” is also known as manslaughter. It is the non-intentional killing of another person through an unlawful act or through criminal negligence. In simple words, if someone is not aware that he killed someone, some did something and didn’t know it might kill some, and it did – it could be 3rd degree murder.

In 3rd degree murders, the defendant does not have any intention or motive for the killing. In most cases, they accidentally happen. Perhaps, they wanted to injure or harm someone but ended up killing them. Most of the time it is not easy to prove murder motives, where you might need a murder lawyer who is capable of identifying the murder types.

Third-degree murder or manslaughter can be categorized into two sections. They are,

  • Voluntary manslaughter: when the defendant wanted to harm the victim but had no intention of killing yet he did
  • Involuntary manslaughter: when the defendant did something reckless that caused someone’s death

Difference Between First, Second degree Murder and Third Degree Murder

First degree murder is when the murderer planned the entire thing before committing the murder. The murderer developed a plan to kill someone and worked according to the plan. First degree murder is fully intentional.

Second degree murder is also intentional. However, it is not planned beforehand. Sometimes when the defendant wanted to harm someone they knew could cause death, it is also considered second degree murder.

On the other hand, third degree murder is something that is unintentional. There was no planning whatsoever. It occurs accidentally and kills someone.

Example of Third Degree Murder

Here are examples of third degree murder for better understanding. In reality, there could be different scenarios with very different factors. However, we provide some fictional scenarios.

Scenario 1

Imagine some people are enjoying a party at a house. Among them, person1 and person2 are having fun and joking around. They go next to the pool. Person1 jokingly pushes person2. Person2 falls on the pool and hits his head, and dies. Here, person1 committed an involuntary 3rd degree murder.

Scenario 2

Imagine at the party some people got into a fight. In the fight, person3 got angry at person4. Person3 punched person4 a few times. He wanted to injure person4. However, person4 died taking the hits. Here, person3 committed 3rd degree murder voluntarily.

Scenario 3

On the other part of the party, person5 and person6 went to the kitchen to grab some snacks. They went there, and person5 jokingly started throwing spoons and forks towards person6.

Unknowingly, person5 threw a knife towards person6. The knife hits the person6 and gets stuck in his chest. Person6 dies from bleeding too much. Here, person5 will be considered a 3rd degree murderer.

Scenario 4

While partying, person7, person8, and person9 go to the second floor of the house. Person7 went to the bathroom. In the meantime, person8 and person9 planned to push person7 on the stairs so that he breaks his ankle as they didn’t like him much.

While coming down, person8 and person9 pushed person7 on the stairs. Instead of breaking the ankle, person7 breaks his spine and dies immediately. Here, person8 and person9 committed a 3rd degree murder voluntarily.

Third Degree Murder Sentence

The sentence for third degree murder is less compared to first and second degree murder. As the act of killing sometimes is unintentional, the defendants are considered less committed to the crime. They did not have the motive for murder; they did it unintentionally. Yet, they have to face investigation and charges.

Depending on the severeness of the crime, the sentences are declared. The defendants try their best to defend themselves. However, they have to face the consequences of their actions. Based on different variables, the sentences change from case to case. The limit of a third degree murder sentence is following.

  • The minimum sentence for third degree murder can be 4 years of imprisonment
  • The maximum sentence for third degree murder can be a lifetime of imprisonment

Defenses Against a Third Degree Murder Charge

As third degree murders are mostly done unwillingly, there is room to seek less sentence. The defenses against a third degree murder charge are following.

  • Innocence: it implies that the defendant was innocent and did not do anything
  • Insanity: this implies that the defendant was not capable of thinking right and wrong in the situation. He did without any realization.
  • Self-Defence: the defendant was protecting himself from getting injured or harmed.
  • Defense of others: it implies that the defendant was trying to protect someone else. To protect someone else, he committed the crime.
  • Exercise of duty: this implies to public officers who committed 3rd degree murder due to recklessness or negligence.


“Third-degree murders” are often considered accidents. However, they are manslaughter and should not be taken lightly. Depending on the severity of the crime, the defendant should be punished for third degree murder.



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