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Manslaughter

Voluntary Manslaughter

Manslaughter Defined

Degrees of Manslaughter You Should Know

Degrees of Manslaughter You Should Know

There has been a recent development to classify manslaughter law in the same manner as homicide law. This trend has resulted in manslaughter being understood to exist as first degree manslaughter, as well as second degree manslaughter. Manslaughter law in different jurisdictions, however, defines second degree manslaughter in several different ways, with some commonalities across jurisdictions.
 
 
First degree manslaughter is the more severe of the two charges. First degree manslaughter law includes instances when the killer is faced with a provocation to which a reasonable person would respond strongly. First degree manslaughter law also covers instances of imperfect self-defense. This is a specific legal concept that holds that the person responded to a threat with an inappropriate level of force. While the threat must exist, it does not rise to such a level where the person was threatened with their own death, as is the case in instances of perfect self-defense.
 
 
Second degree manslaughter includes cases where the death of the victim was not intended by the killer and the killing happened without malice. Second degree manslaughter charges also recognize circumstances when the killing happened while the killer was performing an action that is not criminal or was performing an action allowed under the law in a way that did not follow the normal manner in which the act was meant to occur. As with other violations of manslaughter law, second degree manslaughter is considered an instance of criminal negligence.
 
 
Second degree manslaughter cases frequently involve hunters who believe they are shooting at animals but in fact fatally shoot human victims. Manslaughter law formerly did not recognize this circumstance under which the killing could be accidental, for although the weapon was discharged intentionally and was aimed at the victim, previous manslaughter law did not differentiate when the intended target was human or animal.
 
 
As manslaughter laws grew more specific, it became more common for individuals to face circumstances where existing manslaughter law did not make a distinction of the specific level of intent in their actions and the legal definitions. Therefore, second degree manslaughter has been a recent development to allow for prosecutions to more accurately reflect the reality when manslaughter laws confront the day-to-day implementation of legal statutes.
 
 
Juries sometimes elect to find defendants guilty of second degree manslaughter when they believe there are extenuating circumstances not specifically recognized in the law. This is often the result of the defense team being able to convince the jury that there is a lower level of culpability present.
 
 
One such incident was a September 2009 case dubbed the "Lady Vengeance" trial. In this case a jury found a woman guilty of second degree manslaughter after she bound, mutilated, and murdered her father. The defense claimed the killer had been subjected to years of molestation, rape, and other forms of abuse by the victim, her father. The defendant had lured the victim to her apartment, handcuffed him, beat the victim, removed his genitals, and placed a towel in his mouth after the defendant became convinced that the victim intended to abuse the defendant's nieces.
 
 
In this case the existence of a manslaughter law was used by a jury to assign a defendant with a degree of guilt, while recognizing that there were mitigating circumstances which affected the killer's intent to commit a crime.
 
 
In some states, second degree manslaughter charges are used to prosecute individuals who engage in assisted suicide. Assisted suicide is only allowed in three jurisdictions in the United States: Oregon, Washington, and Montana.
 
 
Involuntary manslaughter is a specific circumstance of second degree manslaughter. It is a new legal concept, which includes deaths that happen as the result of a failure by an individual to perform an action which would be expected of a reasonable person.

What are Crimes Motivated By Heat of Passion

What are Crimes Motivated By Heat of Passion

Heat of passion crimes refers to crimes committed by individuals who witness a situation which causes them to be consumed by rage or are unable to control their anger. These acts by definition cannot contain any premeditation. They must occur spontaneously.
 
 
Situations which cause people to act in the heat of passion are situations in which a reasonable person test is difficult to conduct. A defense will often attempt to employ the argument that the defendant acted in the heat of passion and is, as a result, not liable for the results of his actions due to a bout of temporary insanity. If the jury refuses to find the defendant not guilty by reason of temporary insanity, the heat of passion defense may be used to sustain a lower charge on the indictment, such as manslaughter instead of second degree murder.
 
 
Defenses claiming that their client acted in the heat of passion are common in cases where the killer has been cuckolded or the killer and victim were engaged in a bar fight. Cuckolding occurs when a wife cheats on her husband. The heat of passion of the crime can be aroused in the husband in several different ways. The first is if he is informed of his wife's infidelity, and in short succession of learning of the infidelity kills his wife, her lover, or both while he is possessed by the heat of passion.
 
 
A cuckold, or husband who has been cheated on, may also be driven by a heat of passion by discovering his wife active in bed with her lover and immediately kill them both, or kill his wife when and if she confronts him with her infidelity. Although it is usual for the wife to be the victim when a husband is in the heat of passion, she sometimes is not the target of his wrath and the full heat of passion is sometimes directed solely against her lover.
 
 
For a cuckold to be seen as acting in the heat of passion it is essential that only a minimal, if any, amount of time may pass between his discovery of the affair and the commission of the crime. If it can be proven that the killing or killings were an attempt to seek revenge, a defense that the killer acted in the heat of passion is invalidated. Although the killer is usually a husband discovering the infidelities of a wife, it is also possible for a wife to kill her husband as the result of discovering he has been unfaithful.
 
 
Although cuckoldry is the most complex crime that is usually committed in the heat of passion, a bar fight that turns fatal can also be seen as a heat of passion killing. Bar fights are distinct in this manner among fights because, whereas other fights are typically prearranged, bar fights are typically spontaneous.
 
 
A bar fight typically has only a short period of escalation. Only in the most peculiar circumstances does an individual entering a bar begin the night with the intention of killing a person in a fight. As a result, the killing is generally considered to be a heat of passion crime, unless evidence can be found which shows that the person acted in some extreme manner to change the normal circumstances which would lead a fight in a bar.

How is Involuntary Manslaughter Possible?

How is Involuntary Manslaughter Possible?

Involuntary manslaughter is the second category of manslaughter. Involuntary manslaughter includes killings which occur without any malice, but still contain an element of both liability and criminality. There are two classifications of involuntary manslaughter: constructive manslaughter and criminally negligent manslaughter.
 
 
Constructive manslaughter is a killing which occurs as the result of an act that is unlawful. It is similar to the idea of felony murder, but covers homicides which occur when a less serious crime is committed. As a result, it is sometimes known as misdemeanor manslaughter. 
 
 
The existence of a misdemeanor manslaughter charge holds an individual liable for the immediate consequences of their actions, while still recognizing the circumstances in which the full liability for one's actions do not rise to the threshold of malice required to charge the individual with homicide.
 
 
There are three qualifications required for a constructive manslaughter to fulfill the involuntary manslaughter definition. The involuntary manslaughter definition requires the defendant to commit an unlawful act, the act must be considered dangerous by a reasonable person even if the act does not target the victim, and the act must be fatal to the victim. 
 
 
If Rob kicks a brick off of a bridge that hits John in the head, which kills John, but Rob did not know John was there, Rob's actions would fulfill the involuntary manslaughter definition. This involuntary manslaughter definition would be fulfilled because Rob committed a fatal act, but lacked both malicious intent as well as a lack of awareness that another person could be harmed. Therefore, Rob's kicking the brick would not have failed a reasonable person test.
 
 
The involuntary manslaughter definition also includes a category known as criminally negligent manslaughter. This version of involuntary manslaughter is also known as criminally negligent homicide in America, gross negligence manslaughter in England and Wales, and culpable homicide in Scotland.
 
 
The involuntary manslaughter definition of criminally negligent manslaughter involves cases in which the death of a person occurs as a result of serious negligence or recklessness on the part of another individual. Recklessness is the more serious of the two circumstances. The involuntary manslaughter definition which concerns reckless incidents views recklessness to have occurred when an individual is aware of the negative consequences which may accompany their actions but chooses to commit the act anyway.
 
 
Negligence in an involuntary manslaughter includes instances of carelessness, inattentiveness, or neglectfulness of any circumstance which arises from a course of action pursued by an individual which results in a death.
 
 
The involuntary manslaughter definition provided in law also covers instances of negligence when a professional caregiver, such as a doctor, an emergency medical technician, or a paramedic provides care which does not rise to the level which they have been trained to provide. The point at which poor care becomes negligent care can be difficult to determine and often requires extensive expert testimony.
 
 
This expert testimony is used to both establish a baseline of the normal level of care a person of commensurate training with the defendant should have been able to provide. This baseline standard is then compared to that which was actually performed. 
 
 
The expectation of service can never be below that which a reason person would have provided, but can be raised based on individual circumstances, such as a specialization in treating the particular symptoms.

Difference Between Manslaughter and Homicide

Difference Between Manslaughter and Homicide

There are two legal areas which comprise incidents of homicide. If a homicide, or killing of one individual due to the actions of another, is found to be criminal, then the killer may be charged with manslaughter or with murder. The primary difference between manslaughter and murder is one of intent. A person charged with manslaughter is generally less liable than a person charged with murder.
 
 
A homicide charge is filed against a killer when there is proof of malice and premeditation. Murder is the classification of homicides that include the intentional and malicious commission of a killing. When a killer is charged with manslaughter it can be for several different meanings, all of which are the result of less severe circumstances being met than in murder cases.
 
 
In order for an individual to be charged with manslaughter or homicide to be convicted, the prosecution must prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt in either circumstance. Whether the killer is charged with manslaughter or an incident of criminal homicide, the defense may attempt to stage a defense showing that the actions of the defendant can be explained by a different legal defense based on a plea of insanity, or attempts to justify the crime as an example of self-defense.
 
 
Murder is the more serious of the two charges of homicide. Murder charges are premeditated or especially heinous crimes. It involves any homicide in which the killer intended to kill, meant to seriously harm but not kill the victim, acted without any regard for the outcome of their action, or killed a person while committing another serious or violent felony.
 
 
A person charged with manslaughter will have committed a homicide that does not rise to the level of seriousness required to sustain a murder charge. A killer may be charged with manslaughter if the killing did not contain the sufficient element of premeditation or if the killing could be construed as a crime of passion.
 
 
Murder and manslaughter cover the various situations that constitute criminal homicide. Non-criminal homicides include circumstances where the killer can be proven to have acted in self-defense. 
 
 
Other circumstances of non-criminal homicide include killings in defense of property, killings in defense of others, killings which happen under duress, killing done in prevention of a crime, killings done by a person in a state of less than full consciousness, or a killing that happens as the result of mistaken facts. 
 
 
A non-criminal homicide based on mistaken fact means that the killing would have otherwise been criminal if the facts were as the killer believed them to be.

Vehicular Manslaughter Overview

Vehicular Manslaughter Overview

Vehicular manslaughter is sometimes referred to as DUI manslaughter. Vehicular manslaughter is nearly identical to vehicular homicide. Vehicular manslaughter is used to cover instances of murder which involve the use of motor vehicles, but contain a higher degree of negligence than do vehicular homicide cases.
Vehicular manslaughter charges typically involve incidents where the operator of a motor vehicle killed a cyclist, pedestrian, another driver, or a passenger in their own car or a car operated by another person while under the influence of a controlled substance.
A person is more likely to face DUI manslaughter charges if they do not have a history of other DUI offenses. Vehicular manslaughter is also the more likely charge if the individual has a clean driving record. A person who has a record of serious driving-related offenses, such as careless driving, is more likely to be charged with vehicular homicide than with vehicular manslaughter.
Vehicular manslaughter, DUI manslaughter, and intoxicated manslaughter are often used interchangeably to describe the same offense. A vehicular manslaughter charge reflects the lack of intent to commit a crime, as do most other manslaughter charges. Vehicular manslaughter is often upgraded to the charge of vehicular homicide if a pattern of previous offenses can be proven by the prosecution. If it can be proven that the driver facing charges of vehicular homicide has previously been found guilty of DUI charges or had their driving privileges revoked, then they are more likely to face charges of vehicular homicide.
DUI manslaughter is prosecuted under the idea that it is a special circumstance of negligent homicide. As a result, the prosecution does not have to prove a specific intent on the part of the defendant. Instead the only thing needed is a demonstration that the defendant acted in such a way as to demonstrate a willful ignorance of the possibility that their actions could result in the death of another person.
DUI manslaughter charges are considered crimes of negligence because the consumption of any substance which interferes with a person’s ability to make reasonable judgments is considered a negligent act.

The Hard Facts About Manslaughter

The Hard Facts About Manslaughter

Manslaughter cases involve cases when the killer’s actions did not rise to the level needed to fulfill the requirements to support a criminal homicide prosecution. Criminal homicides involve instances when the killer acted with intent to kill an individual and planned the killing out in advance.
Criminal homicide involves an element of malice and is the product of a premeditated action. Manslaughter is any incidence of killing that does not meet the requirements to be considered murder, but still contains elements of criminality.
Manslaughter is broken into two major categories of offenses. Voluntary manslaughter occurs when the killer intended to kill or to cause harm, but there were mitigating circumstances which caused the crime to be less serious. Involuntary manslaughter cases involve cases of criminal killings of an individual where there was no intention to kill or do harm to the victim.
Manslaughter cases involve killings where there are extreme mitigating circumstances to prevent a finding of full culpability for the actions of an individual. Murder and manslaughter cases are concerned with examining the status of two Latin terms, mens rea and actus reus. Mens rea means “guilty mind” and examines the mental process which the accused is believed to have undergone. The prosecution of a murder case is required to prove that the accused had the mens rea which contained elements of knowingly, purposefully, or recklessly committing the crime. Manslaughter cases involve incidents when the defendant did not have the requisite mens rea to be subjected to a murder charge, but there is still an element of wrongdoing. 
Actus reus means “guilty act.” Actus reus means that there must be an act to be committed. Actus reus in regards to manslaughter cases means that the act that is being prosecuted must not be premeditated, but resulted in the death of an individual.
Charges of manslaughter are often filed if the defendant is incapable of obtaining the requisite level of mens rea to substantiate a more serious charge. Manslaughter cases also include cases when the actus reus does not rise to the level of malicious intent that would have to be met to substantiate a charge of murder. 
Mens rea and actus reus may be found to be insufficient to support murder charges if either the killer is not in full control of their mental or physical capacities, or operated under circumstances which would not have caused a reasonable person to act in the same manner. For instance, a person who killed in self defense when the threat could have been stopped without employing deadly force could be subjected to manslaughter charges instead of being found not guilty of murder by pleading self-defense.

Manslaughter as a Misdemeanor

Manslaughter as a Misdemeanor

Misdemeanor manslaughter is a specific circumstance of involuntary manslaughter. It is difficult to describe in the abstract. Misdemeanor manslaughter is a killing that happens during the commission of a non-felony crime, or misdemeanor. A misdemeanor manslaughter lacks the degree of malice present in a felony murder charge. Whereas a felony murder occurs during the commission of a premeditated crime involving a violent component with a reasonable chance of harm occurring, a misdemeanor manslaughter charge covers any similar situation which lacks at least one of those elements.
 
 
Karen may be charged with misdemeanor manslaughter if she throws a brick off of an overpass which hits a car driven by Sean. Sean loses control of the car and swerves into Brooke's car, which causes Brooke's car to go off of the road and strike a tree. If Brooke died as a result of hitting the tree, Karen may be charged with misdemeanor manslaughter.
 
 
A misdemeanor manslaughter charge would apply because it would be unreasonable to expect Karen to foresee Brooke's death in this example. If Sean had been killed by the brick, it is possible Karen could have been charged with murder due to negligence or a careless disregard for the consequences of her actions. Brooke's death, however, might be considered a sufficiently remote consequence of the misdemeanor of throwing the brick that a felony charge would be considered a cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment.

Understanding Manslaughter Charges

Understanding Manslaughter Charges

Manslaughter charges are intended to cover killings which do not rise to the degree of criminality associated with murder charges, but for which there is still a degree of criminal liability. A manslaughter charge should not be seen as a finding that the killer is innocent of the homicide. Rather a manslaughter charge is meant to allow a prosecutor to charge a crime when they are not able to provide enough proof that a murder occurred.
Manslaughter charges also allow a jury in a first or second degree murder trial to find the killer guilty of a crime if the burden of proof for a murder conviction has not been met. As a result, manslaughter charges are often presented to the jury as lesser included offenses. A killer rarely faces just murder charges. Any list of charges which include murder charges will usually include an equal number of manslaughter charges on the docket.
Manslaughter charges are also included in the law so that a prosecutor can offer a killer a plea bargain if the prosecutor believes that the killer has evidence of other crimes which law enforcement officials are unable to obtain information on from any other source.
A manslaughter charge, with its shortened prison sentence, may be offered as an incentive to get a criminal to testify against another person involved in the killing who is believed by law enforcement to possess a greater degree of culpability for the crime. A manslaughter charge may be offered to a mob hitman in exchange for testifying against the person who ordered the killings. A manslaughter charge also allows defendants to obtain some recognition of mitigating circumstances which may have contributed to their motivation for committing the crime with which they are being charged.

Two Definitions of Voluntary Manslaughter

Two Definitions of Voluntary Manslaughter

Manslaughter has two different definitions. The two kinds of manslaughter charges an individual may face are voluntary manslaughter and involuntary manslaughter. Voluntary manslaughter is the more serious of the two charges. A voluntary manslaughter happens when there is malicious forethought. An individual is convicted of manslaughter when there are mitigating circumstances. This is the main difference between a charge of murder, which also has an element of intent, and manslaughter.
In order to understand the circumstances in which manslaughter cases are commonly applied, it is crucial to understand a legal concept known as the “reasonable person.” A reasonable person is a legal fiction of a person the same age and gender as the defendant with a similar background. This reasonable person forms an objective background which provides the basis against which the actions of any individual may be judged to determine the criminality of the person’s actions.
The reasonable person is assumed to always act in moderation, always pay attention to their surroundings, always exemplifies a high level of self-control, and never consumes any substance, such as alcohol or drugs, which would impair their ability to function.
A homicide charge will often have voluntary manslaughter as a lesser included charge so as to attempt to obtain a conviction against a defendant even if the prosecution does not prove its case strongly enough to substantiate a more serious charge but the jury still finds a degree of culpability.
Voluntary manslaughter is rarely the top charge in an indictment. Voluntary manslaughter is usually only the verdict of a jury if the defense attorneys have successfully presented their case. Voluntary manslaughter is often the decision of a jury if the defense has presented sufficient evidence to prove that there were mitigating circumstances which contributed to the defendant’s actions.
A voluntary manslaughter sentence is usually the result if the defense can prove one of three circumstances. The first is that the killer was responding to a provocation that would have elicited a similar response from a reasonable person. A recent incident of provocation involved a person insulting another person on Twitter. The reasonable person standard is also crucial to the two other circumstances of voluntary manslaughter.
The next instance of manslaughter that the reasonable man test enters into is a finding of voluntary manslaughter by reason of imperfect self-defense. While a perfect self-defense case result in an acquittal, imperfect self-defense is an instance of manslaughter where the killer acted to defend themselves or another person but the deadly force employed would not be considered by a reasonable person to be an appropriate response to the threat faced. Michigan also allows for imperfect self-defense when the killer would have been found to be acting in self-defense, except that the killer initiated the confrontation.
Diminished capacity is the third circumstance in which voluntary manslaughter may be determined to have occurred. Diminished capacity is a legal concept present in some jurisdictions of the United States which finds that a person suffering from a mental disease or defect is still liable for the consequences of their actions, but is not to be held to the same standards as the fictional reasonable person. Diminished capacity is related to but distinct from an insanity plea.
A defense of diminished capacity places the burden of proof on the prosecution to disprove it and attempts to negate a part of the case, and is thus known as a negating defense. An insanity defense is an affirmative defense because it presents additional evidence and places the burden on the defense to prove their charge. A successful diminished capacity defense in a murder case would result in a guilty finding on the lower charge of manslaughter.

Legal Definition of Second Degree Manslaughter

Legal Definition of Second Degree Manslaughter

Second degree manslaughter is a serious criminal offense that can result in long term adverse consequences for the offender. 2nd degree manslaughter occurs when an individual kills a victim without intent or malice. In many instances, this offense will occur when the offender is engaged in unlawful behavior or activity.
When an individual is guilty of second degree manslaughter, he/she did not plan or intend to kill his/her victim. The victim was killed due to the reckless and negligent behavior of the offender. In cases such as this, the offender cannot be convicted of first degree murder because he/she did not have the intent or the malice necessary to be found guilty of this offense. The offender was not aware that his/her actions would cause the death of the victim. However, the offender acted without regard for human life, and thus, he/she can be convicted of second degree manslaughter.