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What makes the difference between a voluntary and involuntary manslaughter charge?

On Behalf of | May 7, 2021 | Criminal Defense |

Someone lost their life, and you were involved in the situation. Now, you’re facing manslaughter charges — and you’re not entirely certain what that means.

When you’re in serious legal trouble, you can’t fully participate in your own defense unless you understand the charges against you. Here’s what you need to know to get started.

How does voluntary and involuntary manslaughter differ?

Unlike murder, manslaughter lacks any kind of premeditation. There are two types of manslaughter: voluntary and involuntary. 

Many jurisdictions refer to involuntary manslaughter as criminally negligent homicide. These deaths are generally accidental. They may result from someone’s negligence, such as a motorist driving under the influence and striking and killing a pedestrian.

Voluntary manslaughter is more of a “heat of the moment” type of murder — something that occurs in relation to the circumstances the people are in. For example, someone gets into an argument, picks up a heavy object and hurls it at another individual’s head. The person struck by that object dies. The prosecutor may decide that’s voluntary manslaughter because the action of throwing an object at the victim’s head was intentional but not planned.

How to proceed if you’re facing manslaughter charges

A poor choice or a moment of rage can deprive you of your freedom and leave you facing serious criminal charges such as manslaughter. Prosecutors only see one side of the scenario; that someone has died. They don’t know you, nor do they know the circumstances that led up to the victim losing their life. An attorney can help you present a cohesive defense and make sure that your rights are fully protected.