In order to establish an exact expression, courts examine the circumstances of the crime in order to determine the appropriate sanction. These circumstances are divided into two categories, aggravating and mitigating factors. Aggravating factors are the facts about the crime the defendant or the victim and tend to cause the most serious offense and generally deserve a tougher sentence. Courts take into consideration aggravating factors such as the viciousness of a crime while mitigating factors tend to reduce sentences. They show that the defendant poses a lower risk to society, so a long sentence is unnecessary. Mitigating factors include the lack of criminal record and acceptance of responsibility for the crime charged.
The criminal act for both offenses is the same: the death of another person. The main difference between them is the mental state of the person committing the crime. First degree murder is premeditated murder. In other words, the murderer thinks out a plan to kill another person and then performs the act. In a second degree murder there is no plan made in advance.
The main elements for an involuntary manslaughter conviction are: the killing is a result of an action taken by the defendant, such act was not necessarily dangerous or was made with lack of concern for human life, and the defendant should have known or was aware that his/her acts represented a threat to another person(s) life.
Elements of a first-degree murder. Intent Deliberation and premeditation Premeditation aforethought