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What is Manslaughter?

The world of homicide is divided into two broad categories of unlawful killings of human beings: murder and manslaughter. Of the two categories, murder is more culpable than manslaughter, but both are still significant crimes. Manslaughter is the legal term given to killings that do not have the state of mind required for murder. Manslaughter is further divided into two categories: voluntary and involuntary.

Voluntary manslaughter is manslaughter where a person, the defendant, kills another individual on purpose, but without the requisite mental state to qualify for murder. For example, a man that walks in on his wife with her lover would qualify for voluntary manslaughter if he were to kill the wife's lover immediately. If he didn't intend to kill the man but was provoked by the actions and situation to kill him, he did not plan out the murder.

Some individuals try to claim voluntary manslaughter when they find a situation that makes them extremely mad and then three weeks later kill the individual that was the cause of the irritation. While this may sound right, voluntary manslaughter does not allow for a cooling off period. If a person is going to kill an individual that caused them to fly into a rage, it must be immediate to qualify as voluntary.

Involuntary manslaughter, or criminally negligent homicide, is an unintentional killing of an individual due to negligence. A nurse that is supposed to provide homecare for an elderly individual who forgets to feed her charge or doesn't notice symptoms of pneumonia that result in death may be seen as being criminally negligent. While there is typically no duty of care in the criminal world, there is if there is a special relationship, like that of nurse and charge or parent and child.

The greatest difference between involuntary and voluntary manslaughter is that involuntary manslaughter involves an unintentional death whereas voluntary manslaughter does not.

Contact an Appleton Criminal Defense Lawyer

If you have been charged with murder or another felony, contact an Appleton criminal defense lawyer from Hart Powell, S.C. at 1-888-565-7597 to discuss your situation and to formulate a plan for your defense.