Manslaughter often arises from a mistake made without meaning to harm another person. Despite this, manslaughter is considered a form of homicide, and a conviction could carry years in prison. You need a strong defense to avoid the harshest consequences.
Manslaughter is defined in California Penal Code Section 192(c) PC. It involves the killing of another human being without malice aforethought.
Malice aforethought is the requisite intent for murder that indicates the offender acted willingly, deliberately, and with premeditation. Manslaughter does not require any of those elements.
There are two categories of manslaughter: voluntary manslaughter and involuntary manslaughter. Each of these has unique elements that the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt to secure a conviction.
Under California Penal Code Section 192 PC, voluntary manslaughter is the killing of another human being in one of the following situations:
For example, if a wife comes home to her husband cheating and she immediately kills her husband in the heat of the moment, then she may be guilty of voluntary manslaughter.
Under California Penal Code Section 192(b) PC, involuntary manslaughter is the unintentional killing of another person while committing one of the following:
For example, if a person steals a bicycle and accidentally hits a pedestrian while riding away, causing that pedestrian’s death, then the offender may be guilty of involuntary manslaughter.
Under California Penal Code Section 192(c) PC, vehicular manslaughter involves the following elements:
For example, if a woman is texting and driving and hits a pedestrian and kills them, then she might be guilty of vehicular manslaughter.
Vehicular manslaughter is a wobbler offense. That means it can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. The charges depend on the level of negligence.
If a person acted with gross negligence, the charge will likely be filed as a felony with greater penalties. If a person acted with ordinary negligence, the charge will likely be a misdemeanor with lower penalties.
Penalties for manslaughter depend on the type of offense you have been charged with and your criminal record.
Voluntary manslaughter is the most serious type of manslaughter. It is a felony offense punishable by up to 11 years in state prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
Involuntary manslaughter is a felony offense with potential penalties that carry up to four years of imprisonment and a maximum fine of up to $10,000.
If you are found guilty of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence, you will face a felony conviction carrying up to six years in state prison. If you acted with ordinary negligence and were charged with a misdemeanor, you may face up to one year in jail.
Aside from incarceration and fines for a manslaughter conviction, you could face:
The specific defenses available to a defendant charged with manslaughter will vary depending on the circumstances of the case. However, some common defenses to manslaughter charges include:
This defense is available if you acted in self-defense or in defense of another person. To establish self-defense, you must show that you:
This defense is available if your mental capacity was impaired to such an extent that you were unable to form the intent to kill. To establish diminished capacity, you must show that you:
This defense is available if your actions did not actually cause the victim’s death. To establish a lack of causation, you must show that:
There are different types of manslaughter, each with its own elements. However, the general elements of all types of manslaughter include:
If you are facing manslaughter charges, it is important to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. An attorney can advise you of your rights, help you understand the charges against you, and develop a strong defense strategy.
A manslaughter attorney has experience handling cases like yours. They have specialized knowledge about manslaughter laws, and they can use this information to provide you with solid legal advice and representation. Your lawyer can investigate your case and help you develop a strong defense strategy. They can carry through with the case, negotiating with the prosecution and taking it to trial, if it gets to that point.
The penalties of a manslaughter conviction will impact every aspect of your life. It could ruin your reputation and land you in prison for years. The Folsom manslaughter attorneys at Walsh Law understand what you’re facing and how to get your charges reduced or dismissed. The sooner you contact attorney Chris Walsh and his legal team, the quicker you can get started building a defense.