Double Homicide (Definition: What It Is And Why It’s Important)

What is Double Homicide?

How do you legally define it?

What are the essential elements you should know!

Keep reading as we have gathered exactly the information that you need!

Let’s see what double homicide means!

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Let’s get started!

What Does Double Homicide Mean

A double homicide is a term used to refer to the illegal death of two individuals in the commission of the same crime or by the same perpetrator.

The term “double homicide” is not a term defined in statute or used in law formally.

Rather, reporters, news broadcasters, journalists, will typically use the term “double homicide” to report an event where two individuals were unlawfully killed by the same offender.

To better understand the meaning of double homicide, let’s break down the notion of homicide.

What Is Homicide

Homicide is defined as the act of one human being killing another human being.

There is homicide when a person is killed by the action, conduct, negligent act, reckless behavior, of another.

A homicide may also occur as a result of an accident where a person is killed although the perpetrator did not formulate the intent of killing.

The main difference between homicide and murder is the element of intent.

Murder is the most serious type of crime where a person kills another human being and formulated the intention of killing the person.

If a person is killed but the perpetrator did not have the intention to kill, the crime will be classified as a homicide.

Homicide Accusation

When a person unlawfully kills two other individuals and is accused of their death, you’ll typically see the defendant criminally accused of two counts of homicide.

In other words, the crown prosecutor will charge the defendant with two counts of homicide where each count will name each of the victims.

Since the concept of double homicide does not exist under state laws, you will not see one charge against the defendant accusing him or her with two homicides but rather two charges with one homicide each.

Double Homicide vs Double Murder

Double homicide and double murder are closely linked crimes as they result in the same perpetrator killing two other human beings in the context of the same crime or at the same time.

Double homicide is when a person effectively kills two other people (actus reus) without having an intention to kill (mens rea).

In other words, the act of killing can be proven by the prosecutor by the element of intention (required for all crimes) is not present.

On the other hand, double murder is when the criminal or offender not only kills two other people but had formulated a clear intention of killing them.

In essence, a double murder is two counts of murder.

Murder is the most serious type of crime in society as the defendant has no regard for the value of another person’s life.

Double Homicide Definition

The term double homicide is not a “legal” term or used in statutes for us to provide you with a legal definition.

However, double homicide is a term that is used in the day-to-day jargon to refer to an instance where one person kills two people.

“Homicide” is defined as:

The killing of one human being by another
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Depending on the applicable laws, the term “homicide” can have slightly varying meanings.

Generally speaking, there’s homicide when a person is killed as a result of another person’s negligent conduct or negligence, reckless behavior, or carelessness. 

There are instances when a person is killed but the act may not be considered a homicide as the person accidentally kills another in the context of self-defense or when there is a justifiable excuse.

Similarly, if a person was defending his or her life and ends up killing two others, this may not necessarily be considered a double homicide.

The facts of the case are crucial for a judge or jury to make the determination of there was a punishable act of homicide or not.

Double Homicide In Media

Quite often, you’ll hear about double homicide on TV or online when you are watching movies, listening to the latest news coverage, reading books, or watching entertainment shows.

Whenever there are cases of double homicide, they tend to involve the killing of love partners, family members, friends, or other closely related individuals.

As a result, movies, books, TV series, and other entertainment shows will present double homicide plots, crimes of passion, love triangles, and passion crimes as a means to increase the drama.

Even reporters and journalists recognize that double homicide news is catchy and may get people’s attention, particularly if it’s related to family members or love partners.

Double homicide is also linked to instances where a person kills two others and then commits suicide.

Double Homicide Example

What is considered a double homicide?

Let’s take an example of two acts of homicide that we can label as “double” homicide.

Imagine that you have a person who is recklessly using his firearm when going hunting with two of his friends.

As the person misuses the firearm, imagine two shots are accidentally fired killing both friends on the spot.

In this context, you may potentially have a double homicide.

The reason why you have a double homicide is that the offender killed two individuals by accidentally discharging his firearm.

As a result, there is one count of homicide for killing the first person and a second count of homicide for killing the second person.

The offender is likely to get charged by the prosecutor and be sentenced.

Depending on the applicable criminal laws, the sentence may be different and may include prison, probation, community service, fine, or any other sentence the court feels appropriate.

Double Homicide Meaning Takeaways 

So what is the legal definition of Double Homicide?

How do you define “double homicide”?

In this article, I broke down the meaning of double homicide to help answer the question “what is double homicide”.

Although double homicide is not a formal legal or statutory term, it’s jargon we may use to refer to an event relating to the death of two individuals at the hands of the same person.

From a legal standpoint, double homicide is really two single counts of homicide.

Let’s look at a summary of our findings.

What Is A Double Homicide

  • Double homicide is a slang term or day-to-day jargon used to refer to a criminal event where two human beings are killed 
  • The law does not have a double homicide charge, rather a person killing two people will be accused of two counts of homicide
  • Generally, the act of homicide is when a person is proven to have killed two other people but did not have the intention of killing them 
  • The difference between homicide and murder is that the person found guilty of homicide did not have the intention of killing whereas the person convicted of murder not only killed but wanted to kill the person 
Attempted homicide
Criminal investigators 
Defense of infancy 
Homicide sentences 
Homicide vs murder
Homicide vs suicide 
Justifiable homicide 
Mental incapacity 
Negligence per se
Police investigation 
Reckless endangerment 
Reckless homicide 
Self-defense
Triple homicide
Types of homicide
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Assassination 
Capital punishment 
Capital punishment 
Child murder
Consensual homicide 
Contract killing 
Crime of passion 
Criminal investigators 
Criminal negligence 
Culpable homicide
Double murder 
Involuntary manslaughter 
Justifiable homicide 
Lust murder
Mass murder
Misdemeanor murder
Negligent homicide 
Police investigation 
Proxy murder
Serial killer 
Vehicular homicide 
Voluntary manslaughter 
War crimes
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