Skip to Main Content

Manslaughter Charges and the Implications of Intent

Imagine being face-to-face with someone who has unapologetically harmed a loved one physically, emotionally, or mentally. The severity of those consequences has caused you and your family a tremendous amount of grief, and now that they stand before you, you have the opportunity to express how you really feel. Unfortunately, situations like this don’t always go as planned. Verbal altercations can grow into violent ones, then result in unintentional death. In other scenarios, it’s possible to lose focus for a millisecond too long while driving and cause the loss of life. These are some of the most challenging moments that anyone could ever experience, but it’s the reality for many people charged with manslaughter. This post will explain what manslaughter is, how it can impact your life, and how we can help.

Specific Circumstances

Manslaughter is generally defined as the unlawful killing of another person without premeditation or malice. Although someone losing their life is always a serious situation, what distinguishes manslaughter from murder legally is intent. By this logic, manslaughter is considered less severe, however, it can still carry severe consequences if convicted. The exact penalties may change depending on the specifics of the situation.

Although there are several categorizations of manslaughter that vary from state to state, there are two main categories of manslaughter; voluntary manslaughter and involuntary manslaughter. Involuntary manslaughter is when someone unintentionally kills another person while committing a separate crime that is not considered inherently dangerous or through some form of negligent behavior. For example, if someone is involved in a physical fight and impact directly (though unintentionally) causes the other person’s death, that is involuntary manslaughter.

Voluntary manslaughter involves intentionally causing the death of another person, and as a result, carries more severe penalties. This can happen in situations where a person acts in the “heat of passion” or in response to adequate provocation, for which it can sometimes be mistaken as manslaughter instead of self-defense. In some cases, certain types of involuntary manslaughter may be viewed as equally severe as voluntary manslaughter due to the level of negligence involved. For instance, if someone dies as a result of a car accident caused by a driver who was excessively texting, the driver could be charged with “vehicular manslaughter” or “vehicular homicide.” If drugs or alcohol are involved in this scenario, some states make the legal distinction of “intoxication manslaughter.”

Legal Consequences

Manslaughter is considered a felony and the consequences of conviction can be severe. The exact penalties vary from state to state. For example, in North Carolina, voluntary manslaughter is considered a Class D felony which may result in a sentence of up to 17 years in prison. While a conviction in Georgia or South Carolina could lead to even more severe penalties, which is why it’s extremely important to utilize experienced legal counsel as soon as possible.If you are facing manslaughter charges, it’s important to work with an experienced criminal defense attorney who can help you understand your options and develop a defense strategy. Remember that the burden of proof is on the prosecuting attorney and you are innocent until proven guilty. With the right approach, our firm can protect your right to a fair trial and increase your chances of a positive outcome. For a free strategy session, contact our office at (704) 358-0026 today.