Warning: Some of the terms described may be triggering for some readers.

MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — Lawyers, judges and police use legal jargon every day. Understanding the difference between murder and manslaughter is part of the job. But for the rest of us, these terms can be tricky to understand. So, what does it all mean? WKRG News 5 breaks down some of the most popular police terms and what they mean under Alabama laws.


A person commits a homicide if they knowingly or intentionally cause the death of another person. Homicide is more of an umbrella term, which covers the terms “murder” and “manslaughter.”


A murder, under Alabama law, is when a person kills someone intentionally, a person recklessly creates a grave risk of death to a person leading to their death, a person commits a felony (first-degree arson, first or second-degree burglary, etc.) that is clearly dangerous to human life which leads to the death of a person or a person commits arson and a firefighter or other public safety officer dies while performing their duties.


A person is charged with manslaughter if they recklessly and unintentionally cause the death of another person or cause the death of a person due to a sudden “heat of passion.”

Criminally Negligent Homicide:

Criminally negligent homicide is when a person is killed due to being put into obvious danger.


A person commits burglary whenever they knowingly enter or remain inside a building with the intention of committing theft. It is also considered burglary if a person enters a building and is armed with explosives, causes physical injury to someone who is not involved in the crime or is armed with a deadly weapon.


A robbery is committed whenever a person enters a building with the intent to commit theft and is either armed with a deadly weapon or causes serious injury to another person.

Theft of Property:

Theft of property occurs whenever a person takes between $1,500 in value and $2,500 in value and is not taken from another person. Theft of property also includes taking a firearm, controlled substance or livestock regardless of its value.


A person commits assault if they cause serious injury to another person by using a deadly weapon with intent to cause serious physical injury, if they attempt to amputate or disfigure a person or if they recklessly engage in conduct that has a grave risk of death.


Rape occurs whenever a person engages in sexual intercourse with someone of the opposite sex by forcible compulsion, a person engages in sexual intercourse with someone of the opposite sex who is not capable by reason of being physically helpless or mentally incapacitated