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Encino Commerce
Jan 04

What is the Difference between Wrongful Death and Murder?

Posted by: Personal Injury Attorney  

What is the Difference between Wrongful Death and Murder?The OJ Simpson trial caused a splash in the international media in 1994. He was found not guilty of murder in 1995, but was later convicted of wrongful death in 1997. The fact that Simpson could be acquitted from the murder charges yet convicted of wrongful death charges confused many. How could he be not guilty of murder yet guilty of wrongful death?


The answer is not as complicated as you might believe. The difference is that murder is a criminal charge, resulting in a prison term, but wrongful death is a civil charge, resulting in fines. Criminal trials base a guilty verdict on evidence "beyond a reasonable doubt." In addition, the accused is presumed innocent unless the jury determines that they are guilty. Civil trials, however, have a different standard of proof. This standard is "based on a preponderance of the evidence," which essentially means that the jury only has to determine that the accused "probably" committed a crime based on the evidence. As a result, in some instances, it can be easier to convict a person for wrongful death than for murder.

Another key difference is intent. To be convicted of murder, the jury has to determine that the accused intentionally killed someone. To be convicted of wrongful death, the accused does not necessarily have to intend to have killed the victim. For example, a physician can be convicted of wrongful death in a medical malpractice situation, but they probably did not intentionally kill their patient. On the other hand, a person can be convicted of murder as well as wrongful death if intent can be demonstrated. If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident, or if a loved one has been killed and you believe someone else is at fault, Mr. Hamdam, Los Angeles PI attorney can help. Farhad Hamdam, Los Angeles wrongful death lawyer, has helped hundreds of injury victims and families of victims of wrongful death obtain the compensation they deserve.