While individuals charged with manslaughter may find themselves facing charges that are not as serious as murder, this crime, which is a felony, still means their actions resulted in the death of another. According to National Paralegal College, both voluntary and involuntary manslaughter charges often rely on the intent of the perpetrator and the circumstances of the incident that caused the death.
Those charged with this crime should understand both types of manslaughter and how each definition may affect the charges and possible punishments they can face if convicted.
This crime, which is also sometimes called first-degree manslaughter, occurs when someone causes the death of another without premeditation. These situations are often known as “crimes of passion” and may have several triggering circumstances, such as:
- Catching a spouse or lover cheating with another
- Engaging in an argument that escalates into violence
- Interrupting a car theft or burglary
Depending on the circumstances of the death and what caused it, those convicted of voluntary manslaughter can face a considerable prison sentence.
The crime of involuntary manslaughter typically occurs when an individual causes the death of another through reckless, thoughtless or dangerous behavior. Unlike voluntary manslaughter, where intent can play a part in someone’s death, involuntary manslaughter usually occurs as the result of the poor judgment of the accused. For example, if a driver is texting or tuning a car radio and accidentally leaves the road, striking and killing a pedestrian, this would likely fall under involuntary manslaughter.
Those charged with involuntary manslaughter typically face felony charges. Vehicular manslaughter may carry separate charges, depending on the circumstances involved.
Given the complexity and seriousness of both types of manslaughter charges, a strong case is necessary to reach the ideal outcome.