If you face criminal charges for causing the death of another human, the state may determine that manslaughter charges are more appropriate than murder charges. In these cases, evidence is not necessary to establish premeditation or a “depraved mind” with disregard for human life.
Florida law recognizes two types of manslaughter — voluntary and involuntary. According to FindLaw, voluntary manslaughter describes the intentional but unpremeditated killing of another human being.
Elements of voluntary manslaughter in Florida
Voluntary manslaughter refers to the crime of intentional homicide committed whilst in the heat of passion. A heat-of-passion crime is essentially one that requires provocation, which means that, in order to prosecute you, the prosecution must show that an unexpected and sudden event provoked to anger or intense passion within you. The prosecution must then show that such an intense emotion triggered in you the intent to kill the victim or commit an act that you knew would likely result in the victim’s death.
In addition to establishing provocation, the prosecution must also prove that your actions caused the victim’s death. If the prosecution can establish intent and causation, you may face a voluntary manslaughter conviction.
The penalties for voluntary manslaughter
Voluntary manslaughter is a second-degree felony in the Sunshine State. If the prosecution convicts you, you face up to 15 years in prison, with a minimum sentence of 9¼ years. The state may also impose a fine of up to $10,000.
For an aggravated crime — meaning, for example, it involved a child or elderly person, or you used a firearm or weapon — the court may elevate the charges to a first-degree felony and sentence you to up to 30 years in prison.
Though the most appropriate line of defense depends on the circumstances surrounding the incident, Florida law does recognize two possible defenses. The first is excusable homicide. The second is the justifiable use of deadly force to defend against a felony against you or your property. A strong and viable defense to voluntary manslaughter charges can help you avoid significant consequences.