Manslaughter is generally described as the criminal killing of another human that is unintentional. Like murder, it is a type of homicide. It may be charged along with murder in criminal cases as a “safety net” if the prosecution has a weak case for murder.
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There are two ways manslaughter is typically classified:
- Voluntary Manslaughter: Defined as an intentional killing that was not premeditated or planned. Voluntary manslaughter is a killing that may have occurred in a “heat of passion,” which is the result of circumstances that would make a reasonable person disturbed. If this is not the case, the killing may be considered first-degree or second-degree murder.
Involuntary Manslaughter: Also referred to as criminally negligent homicide, involuntary manslaughter is typically defined as an unintentional killing because of recklessness or criminal negligence. An unintentional killing may also be considered involuntary manslaughter if it is the result of an unlawful action that is classified as a misdemeanor or low-level felony.
Generally, most manslaughter convictions result in prison sentences. The exact length of the sentence will depend on whether the manslaughter is ruled voluntary or involuntary.
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The above summary of manslaughter is by no means all-inclusive and is not legal advice. Laws may have changed since our last update. For the latest information on manslaughter laws and penalties, speak to a criminal defense attorney in your area.