Does Indiana Have Degrees of Murder?

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When someone dies and it’s at the hands of another person, unless the killing was justified, the person committing the killing will normally be charged with a crime.  Frequently in the news we hear someone being charged with first degree murder or murder in the third degree.  In short to answer the question posed in this blog, no, Indiana does not have “degrees” of murder, but it does have a few different crimes someone can be charged with based on the circumstances of the situation.  In this blog we will look at what those different crimes are and what the differences between them are.


Murder is the most serious of the charges someone can face when they are accused of killing someone.  Indiana defines the crime of murder as knowingly or intentionally kills another human being.  It also captures cases where someone dies during the commission of a serious felony including;

  • arson, burglary, child molest, consumer product tampering, criminal deviate conduct, kidnapping, rape, robbery, human trafficking, promotion of human labor trafficking, promotion of human sexual trafficking, promotion of child sexual trafficking, carjacking or dealing in a number of serious drugs including cocaine, meth, or most opiates.

If someone is charged with this crime the potential penalty is 45 to 65 years in prison.

Voluntary Manslaughter

The second most serious charge for killing another person is voluntary manslaughter.  Indiana defines this crime as a person knowingly or intentionally kills another human being while acting under sudden heat.  This offense is a level 2 felony.

  • The classic example of a voluntary manslaughter is when a spouse walks in on their spouse cheating on them and immediately in the heat of the moment kills the cheating spouse.

If someone is convicted of this offense it is a level 2 felony and the possible penalty range is 10 to 30 years in prison.

Reckless Homicide

One of the least serious offenses someone can be charged with after killing another is reckless homicide.  That is defined as a person who recklessly kills another human being.

  • A good example of a reckless homicide would be a person playing around with a loaded gun that accidentally discharges and kills another person.

If someone is convicted of this crime it is a level 5 felony and the possible penalty is 1 to 6 years.

Involuntary Manslaughter

The last of the crimes we will look at is involuntary manslaughter.  It is also one of the lesser crimes someone can be charged with if they kill another person.  Indiana defines involuntary manslaughter as a person who kills another human being while attempting to commit a level 5 or level 6 felony, a class a misdemeanor or battery that inherently poses a risk of serious bodily injury.

  • The classic example of this would be forcibly taking property from another and the victim falls causing their death.

This is a level 5 felony and carries a penalty of 1 to 6 years.


As you can see there are a vast number of crimes that may be charged when someone is killed.  The possible penalties are drastically different, and each case is different in its application.  If you are facing a charge of this nature you can reach Banks & Brower 24/7 at 317-870-0019.