Being charged with a criminal offense is stressful and scary, especially if it is as serious as manslaughter. However, it doesn’t mean that you can’t fight the charges and get a desirable outcome. If you have been accused of manslaughter, it is important to understand the charge and what’s needed to prove it.
What is manslaughter?
Manslaughter is the criminal offense of unlawfully killing another person, without premeditation or malice. Intentional and reckless killings, on the other hand, are often charged as murder. Manslaughter is further divided into two categories: voluntary and involuntary.
Voluntary manslaughter occurs when a person kills another in the heat of passion, such as after getting provoked or injured. Involuntary manslaughter, on the other hand, takes place when a person unintentionally kills another as a result of criminal negligence or recklessness.
The defendant unlawfully killed another person
The defendant needs to have caused the death of another person, either intentionally or recklessly. This could be through direct actions or by omission, meaning failing to act. In order to prove this element, the prosecutor must show that the victim died and that the defendant was responsible for the death.
The defendant committed the act consciously and voluntarily
This means that they intended to kill the victim or knew that their actions could lead to death. The prosecutor must show that the defendant was not coerced or forced into committing the act.
The act was unlawful and dangerous
The defendant needs to have performed an illegal act. It must be something that society recognizes as inherently wrong and criminal. The act has to involve some level of criminal intent, such as reckless or negligent acts which disregard the safety of others. Note that a criminal defense lawyer may use “accident” or “self-defense” as defenses to a manslaughter charge.
Although manslaughter is often considered a serious offense, there are multiple criminal defense strategies available when fighting criminal charges. It may be possible to challenge the prosecutor’s ability to prove each element of a manslaughter charge beyond reasonable doubt.