There are three main types of manslaughter charges; voluntary manslaughter, involuntary manslaughter and vehicular manslaughter.
The legal definition of voluntary manslaughter (California Penal Code 192(a)) is to intentionally kill another person or to act with a conscious disregard for human life. In either of these cases, the defendant would either violate California’s murder law or the voluntary manslaughter law, the only difference being whether they acted with malice aforethought. Malice aforethought occurs when a person acts with intent to kill or a disregard for human life, if this is proven then the defendant can be convicted of murder. However, if the event occurred in a moment of heated passion or during an argument, California law assumes that there was no malice present and therefore the defendant is charged with voluntary manslaughter. A sudden quarrel or heat of passion can occur when you were provoked and as a result of that provocation you acted rashly and were under the influence of emotions that didn’t allow for clear reasoning or judgment. Additionally it has to be believable that the same provocation, in another situation, would have caused the average person to act the same way. If convicted of voluntary manslaughter, you could face 3, 6, or 11 years in prison. If, however, you are convicted of murder, the higher level offense, you could spend anywhere from 15 years to life in prison.
POSSIBLE LEGAL DEFENSES FOR VOLUNTARY MANSLAUGHTER
There are a few options regarding defenses for someone accused of voluntary manslaughter. An attorney can argue that the defendant was acting in self-defense or in the defense of others. Meaning they were protecting themselves or others from possibly being killed, being injured, or even possibly being raped, robbed, or a victim of another such forcible act. An attorney can even plead insanity on behalf of their client. In this case, there is an insanity test that is administered known as the M’Naughten test, if the defendant passes this test, they can plead insanity as a defense to the crime they’ve been charged with.
You can be charged with involuntary manslaughter if the prosecutor deems that although you killed a person you did it without malice, intent to kill and without conscious disregard for human life. The difference being that you were not necessarily involved in either an unlawful act or a lawful act that requires a high risk of death or great bodily injury at the time that you killed the other person. If you are convicted of involuntary manslaughter, you can face 2, 3, or four years in jail.
California’s laws relating to vehicular manslaughter apply to situations in which a driver operates a car in an unlawful way that does not qualify as a felony with or without gross negligence, they operate this car during the commission of a lawful act which could produce death in an unlawful manner or if they knowingly cause the accident for financial gain. Vehicular manslaughter is classified as a wobbler, meaning that it can be charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor. If you are convicted of misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter, you could face up to one year in jail. If, however, you are convicted of felony manslaughter, you could face anywhere from 2 to 10 years in prison.
READY TO FIGHT FOR YOU
If you or a loved one is facing a manslaughter charge, you need an aggressive Orange County criminal defense lawyer on your side. With offices in Costa Mesa, we serve people throughout Southern California, including in Huntington Beach, Irvine, Santa Ana, Costa Mesa, and Los Angeles. Call (855) 505-5588 or contact us online for a free initial consultation.