Homicide is a general, over-arching term meaning the death of one human being at the hands of another. Murder implies premeditation or deliberation, in the time leading up to a death. Manslaughter, however, which can be involuntary, is a lesser charge. One can still be tried for manslaughter even in the absence of malicious intent. Below, we’ll take a look at two different examples of manslaughter. One of which demonstrates second-degree manslaughter, which is often “involuntary;” the other shows an example of first-degree manslaughter, which in most cases means “voluntary” manslaughter.
While manslaughter is a less serious offense than murder, standing accused of manslaughter could still mean years of jail time.
* Any incident involving a police officer or other officer of the peace will result in the higher charge of aggravated manslaughter which, in turn, carries with it longer prison terms.
Example of Second-Degree Manslaughter:
Imagine a hunter. He is in the woods, hunting deer. Forests have strict regulations concerning where you are legally allowed to discharge your weapon. The periphery of forests, generally, are zones where one may not fire their weapon lest a stray bullet harm a civilian living outside of the woods. If a hunter were to disregard these laws while hunting, and a stray bullet were to kill an innocent person, that hunter may be held liable for the death. Because there was no malice or intent involved, and certainly no premeditation, the hunter would be tried for manslaughter, not murder. The reason for this is because, while involuntary, his actions were still reckless. Recklessness of behavior is necessary to prove when charging someone with second-degree manslaughter.
Example of First-Degree Manslaughter:
It may seem counterintuitive that one could voluntary kill another person and not be charged with murder. What differentiates murder from manslaughter is the element of premeditation. Which means, if a fist fight or other altercation escalates into extreme physical violence, and one party dies, either at the scene or later in the hospital, the surviving party may be charged with first-degree manslaughter. Why? Because while the surviving party did intend to physically harm the other person, it may be proven that they never intended to kill the other person. So the harm was voluntary but the death was accidental. This is an extreme account of reckless behavior but because there was intent to commit violence, it qualifies as first-degree manslaughter.
Contact Our Criminal Defense Attorneys
As you can see, these examples are drastically different. A skilled lawyer can help you downgrade your manslaughter charge from the first to the second degree. At Kaplan Lawyers PC, that’s exactly what we’re offering. A highly-trained team of attorneys, experienced in the strategies that can save you from spending time in jail. If you stand accused of manslaughter, we know the outlook may seem dim, but we urge you not to lose hope. Contact us today for a free consultation. We can evaluate your case, discuss your options, and begin building you a strong defense.