One of the most serious crimes in Pennsylvania is homicide. Criminal homicide is defined as causing the death of another human being “intentionally, knowingly, recklessly, or negligently.”
If a person has killed another willfully, deliberately, or with premeditation, they can be charged and convicted of murder in the first-degree.
If someone causes the death of another person while they or their accomplice is committing a felony, they can be charged with murder in the second degree.
If it’s not first or second degree murder or manslaughter, then it’s third-degree murder.
If a person kills someone else without justification and because of a “sudden and intense passion resulting from serious provocation” by the person who was killed, then the person may be charged with voluntary manslaughter.
If a person kills someone because of a sudden and intense passion that was triggered by the provocation of a third person and accidentally or negligently killed the victim, that can also be considered voluntary manslaughter.
If you kill someone while breaking the law or while doing something legal but doing it in a reckless or grossly negligent way, you can be charged with involuntary manslaughter.
Causing or aiding suicide
Effective November 30, 2021, a person can be convicted of causing or assisting a suicide if the person causes the death “by force, duress or deception.”
Assisting or trying to cause a suicide is a separate criminal offense.
Drug delivery resulting in death
If a drug given to someone else causes that other person to die, the person providing the drug can be charged with drug delivery resulting in death.
Criminal homicide of a law enforcement officer
First-degree murder of a law enforcement officer
If someone intentionally kills a police officer while the officer is acting as a law enforcement agent, they can be charged and convicted of first-degree murder of a law enforcement officer.
Second-degree murder of a law enforcement officer
If a person kills a law enforcement officer in the line of duty while committing or participating in a felony offense, they can be charged and convicted of second-degree murder of a law enforcement officer.
Manslaughter of a law enforcement officer
A person can be convicted of manslaughter of a law enforcement officer if 1.) the actor acts under a sudden and intense passion that caused by the actor’s serious provocation, 2.) after another person’s serious provocation, the person acts under a sudden and intense passion and kills the police officer.
Second-degree manslaughter of a law enforcement officer
If a person acts recklessly or in a grossly negligent way, causes the death of a police officer, and knew that the victim was a police officer, they may be charged and convicted of second-degree manslaughter of a law enforcement officer.