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.

Accused of manslaughter in Folsom, CA? Call Walsh Law today at 916-237-8270 or use our online contact form to schedule a confidential consultation about your case.

What Is Manslaughter in California?

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.

Elements of Voluntary Manslaughter

Under California Penal Code Section 192 PC, voluntary manslaughter is the killing of another human being in one of the following situations:

  • A sudden quarrel
  • The heat of passion
  • Based on honest but unreasonable belief of the need to defend oneself or others

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.

Elements of Involuntary Manslaughter

Under California Penal Code Section 192(b) PC, involuntary manslaughter is the unintentional killing of another person while committing one of the following:

  • A crime that is not considered an inherently dangerous felony
  • A lawful act that might produce death

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.

What Is Vehicular Manslaughter?

Under California Penal Code Section 192(c) PC, vehicular manslaughter involves the following elements:

  • The offender was driving a motor vehicle in a negligent or unlawful manner; and
  • The offender caused the death of another person.

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.

Manslaughter Penalties in California

Penalties for manslaughter depend on the type of offense you have been charged with and your criminal record.

Penalties for Voluntary Manslaughter

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.

Penalties for Involuntary Manslaughter

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.

Penalties for Vehicular Manslaughter

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.

Other Potential Consequences of Manslaughter

Aside from incarceration and fines for a manslaughter conviction, you could face:

  • Community service
  • Probation
  • Loss of professional license
  • Citizenship or immigration issues
  • Difficulty finding housing
  • Job loss
  • Problems obtaining financial aid and education
  • Loss of firearm rights

Defenses for Manslaughter in Folsom

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:

You Acted in Self-Defense or Defense of Others

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:

  • Acted in response to an actual or perceived threat of imminent unlawful force.
  • Used reasonable force to defend yourself or another person.
  • Did not retreat from the threat if retreat was reasonably available.

You Had Diminished Capacity

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:

  • Suffered from a mental defect that impaired your ability to understand the nature and consequences of your actions.
  • Did not act with malice aforethought.

There Was a Lack of Causation

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:

  • An independent intervening cause caused the victim’s death.
  • Your actions were not a substantial factor in causing the victim’s death.

Manslaughter Charge FAQs

What are the elements of manslaughter?

There are different types of manslaughter, each with its own elements. However, the general elements of all types of manslaughter include:

  • You caused the death of another person.
  • Your actions were unlawful, reckless, or negligent.
  • You did not act with malice aforethought.

What should I do if I’m accused of manslaughter?

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.

How can a manslaughter attorney help me?

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.

Get Help from a Folsom Manslaughter Lawyer

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.

Call 916-237-8270 today or fill out our confidential contact form to schedule a free initial consultation.

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