Manslaughter is a violent crime involving a death, but unlike murder, it does not include malice as an element. California Penal Code section 192 describes Manslaughter as "the unlawful killing of a human being without malice." This is to be distinguished from Murder, which includes the element of malice. There are three types of manslaughter which are set forth in California Penal and Vehicle Codes:
- Voluntary Manslaughter is a death occurring in a sudden quarrel or heat of passion. This may be an explosive altercation, for example after learning of an infidelity. Often in these cases the death was provoked by the actions of the victim. Such a person may be charged with manslaughter rather than murder;
- Involuntary Manslaughter involves acting in a negligent or reckless manner, or committing a misdemeanor offense which unintentionally caused an individual's death may lead to charges of involuntary manslaughter.
- Vehicular Manslaughter involves a death resulting from an unlawful act causing death while driving a vehicle. It could be a case as simple as a person being involved in an accident where an individual mistakenly ran a red light and an individual in the other vehicle was killed.
While Manslaughter may be considered in some circumstances an accidental or unintentional death, the consequences can be extremely serious. The crime of Voluntary is a felony and carries the potential for prison sentences up to nine years. Vehicular Manslaughter can range from a misdemeanor to a serious felony. A recent Vehicular Manslaughter case our office handled all the way to trial was finally settled without any custody, just a small fine. Although this is not a representation of what could occur in every case, the facts of this case were very thoroughly investigated and multiple witnesses interviewed. When the investigation was complete, it was clear that the charges absolutely did not warrant serious consequences. As with most crimes, this case is an example of why a thorough and committed defense is warranted for anyone charged with or even being investigated for Manslaughter.
As an experienced Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney, I strongly encourages those charged with Manslaughter to not assume the worst result. The unbelievable stress, fear and confusion surrounding an individual being charged with a crime can sometimes lead to hasty decisions that can haunt them forever. Consequences of a conviction can include loss of employment and a permanent felony criminal record. Why carefully investigate? It is obvious that even the prosecution and/or police feel that there are reasons why the death was accidental or at minimum did not involve malice. By carefully interviewing those involved often a clearer picture becomes available as to what actually occurred. When interviewed again, it is also common for witnesses to give a differing or clearer depiction of events than those contained in police reports.
If you are facing any type of manslaughter charge, immediately contact our office. As an experienced Criminal Defense Attorney, we will carefully investigate the circumstances surrounding the allegations against you. As an aggressive defense firm, our goal is always to arrive at the best possible result for our clients.