Manslaughter is the crime of killing another person without premeditation or malice. It can also involve actions taken with a disregard for human life. There are three basic categories of manslaughter:
- Voluntary Manslaughter - Killing someone due to provocation, without premeditation.
- Involuntary Manslaughter - Accidental killing of an individual through gross negligence or other factors. There was no intention to kill, or any malice involved in the act.
- Vehicular Manslaughter - Crime of fatally injuring someone in a car accident.
Manslaughter vs. Murder: What's the difference?
The main difference between charges of manslaughter and murder is the driving force of malice. Should the murder have been premeditated and included the element of malice, it will typically be classified as murder. Manslaughter, on the other hand, typically occurs either during the "heat of the moment" or through gross negligence. So what is gross negligence? Legally, it is defined as an act of severe carelessness or recklessness. It is the opposite of what a reasonable person would consider cautious and causes an act that would have otherwise been prevented through reasonable actions.
For example, should a couple get into an argument that escalated to the point of violence, during which one of them drew a gun. This could be argued that it was done during a moment of passionate anger, rather than calculated thought. However, should the defendant had left the argument, stewed over the fight and come back later to commit the homicide, they would have had sufficient time to "cool down" and the crime could be technically classified as murder.
An example of involuntary manslaughter would be a driver getting distracted while driving at night and hitting a pedestrian. There was no forethought or intention to commit the homicide and therefore, it cannot be classified as murder – simply grossly negligent. In many cases, drunk driving can result in a fatal accident. In these cases, it can be elevated past a simple DUI to
vehicular manslaughter. This is a criminal act that carries stiff penalties and harsh consequences. For this reason, should you find yourself facing criminal charges of this nature, it is extremely important to get the involvement of an experienced lawyer. This is a serious criminal offense and you need serious criminal defense.
Have you been arrested for manslaughter?
Manslaughter is a lesser offense than murder, but still carries stiff penalties if there is a conviction, including imprisonment. Many times, a person will be charged with manslaughter instead of murder if it is believed that the crime was provoked by the victim, or the defendant was acting in self-defense.
Sentencing for a guilty verdict in a manslaughter case can include:
- Imprisonment for up to 11 years
- Fines and restitution
- Driver's license revocation (vehicular manslaughter)
We will conduct a thorough investigation of the incident, and look for weaknesses in the prosecution's case that can be used to mitigate the charges against you. Our office will also look for any errors in police procedures that could results in a case dismissal or acquittal.