Although most people know that manslaughter is considered a lesser crime than murder, there are a variety of different nuanced elements that set them apart. In both cases, the outcome involves a victim who lost his or her life. The subsequent proceedings, investigations and evidence will then determine if suspects are charged with homicide or manslaughter. It’s also important to understand that there are two basic forms of manslaughter. First, there is involuntary manslaughter, and second, there is voluntary manslaughter. No matter which criminal charge of manslaughter you’re facing, the sooner you get in touch with a criminal defense attorney, the better.

Types of Manslaughter

Involuntary Manslaughter

A charge of involuntary manslaughter is typically applied where a person is killed due to the recklessness or even criminal negligence of another person. The death might even occur as a result of a misdemeanor or lower-level felony, such as driving under the influence. Basically, the death wasn’t intentional, but it did result as some sort of criminal or negligent behavior. In cases of involuntary manslaughter, the prosecution has to show that the victim was killed as a direct result of the defendant. Additionally, if the act that caused the death was inherently dangerous or done with reckless disregard for human life, you could also be looking at involuntary manslaughter. Finally, if you knew or should have known that your conduct was a threat to the lives of others, you could be facing involuntary manslaughter charges.

Voluntary Manslaughter

In cases involving voluntary manslaughter, the defendant did intend to kill somebody, but with no prior intent. This type of killing is intentional, but only in the heat of passion or the heat of the moment. This is the type of case that occurs when heated disputes turn deadly. You might not have ever intended to kill somebody, but in being caught up in the heat of passion, you took somebody’s life anyway. Voluntary manslaughter often occurs during quarrels and fights. It’s important to understand that in cases of voluntary manslaughter, there is now malicious forethought.

What is the Heat of The Moment?

A crime, manslaughter in particular, which happens in the heat of the moment is often classified as voluntary. A variety of circumstances can be considered heat of passion or heat of the moment. It’s important to highlight that the defendant didn’t know he or she was going to hurt or kill somebody prior to the passionate or heated moment. If a person lies in wait for some kind of created ‘heated moment,’ that might not be considered manslaughter in the eyes of the law, because it required some malice aforethought. Essentially, the heat of the moment is any moment in time, where a person is caught up in fervor and injures or kills somebody that he or she didn’t intending on harming prior to that moment. For example, if a person finds his or her spouse being unfaithful, and catches them in the act, a heated moment can arise. In the heat of passion, he or she attacks either person involved in the affair and going too far, kills one of them with a punch to the head.

Manslaughter Versus Murder

What sets manslaughter and murder apart is essentially a malicious intent prior to the event in question. If there was any planning involved, you’re likely going to be facing murder charges. Likewise, you can’t be charged with murder for killing somebody due to a drunk driving accident. You might face vehicular or involuntary manslaughter, but you didn’t set out with the intention to kill somebody with your vehicle. Any type of planning or pre-thought to homicidal intent will likely get you slapped with murder charges. Even in heat of passion cases involving voluntary manslaughter, defendants weren’t planning on injuring or killing anybody prior to the event.

Vehicular Manslaughter

We typically see cases on involuntary manslaughter where certain types of car crashes are concerned. Vehicular manslaughter can occur as a result of drunk or drugged driving. The driver certainly didn’t intend to kill anybody, but they definitely knew that the act of drunk driving is life threatening. If you’re arrested for drunk driving in an accident where somebody was killed, whether that person was in your car or another car, you could also be facing vehicular manslaughter charges.

When to Call a Jackson Criminal Defense Lawyer

Whether you’re facing involuntary or voluntary manslaughter charges, the sooner you speak with a criminal defense attorney the better chance you have at a favorable outcome. Depending upon the severity of your crime and the unique circumstances of your case, you could be looking at extensive time behind bars, in addition to hefty fines. If you’re facing manslaughter charges in or around the Jackson Metro Area, contact Coxwell & Associates, PLLC at (601) 265-7766 for an immediate consultation.


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