Voluntary and involuntary manslaughter are both severe types of violent crimes. You’re innocent until proven guilty, but you still need to be prepared to defend yourself. If you’ve been charged with either one, you may be confused about their differences. In this article, we’ll help you understand the key differences between voluntary and involuntary manslaughter so that you can make informed decisions about your case.
Voluntary and Involuntary Manslaughter: What’s the Difference?
Involuntary manslaughter differs from voluntary manslaughter in that it involves a lack of intention on the part of the defendant. The prosecutor must prove various elements that constitute the crime to show beyond doubt that you are guilty of the offense.
Here are the differences between these unlawful acts so you can better understand them:
1. Intent of the Crime
Voluntary manslaughter pertains to when someone commits a homicide amid a provocation. It is an intentional killing of a person where the offender did not purposely seek out the victim to take their life but put them to death during a heated situation. Nonetheless, this is dissimilar to murder because manslaughter does not include premeditation or planning of the crime.
Some examples where a voluntary manslaughter case occurs are bar fights, domestic disputes, or crimes of passion. It may also include situations where the offender became emotionally or mentally disturbed, leading them to act upon their feelings uncontrollably.
On the other hand, involuntary manslaughter is an act of killing a person, but it does not include any intention to kill someone. The law also defines it as a criminally negligent homicide, where the offender does not know that their reckless actions or lack of human care can put someone in danger. A few examples are car accidents and self-defense cases.
2. Proving the Offense
Under the court, the prosecution council may instantly know your intent to kill if it is a voluntary manslaughter case. Nevertheless, they still need to prove that a circumstance provoked you to commit the crime. These situations may include extreme anger, rage, or emotional triggers that lead you to act in a way that will put the victim to death.
Meanwhile, with involuntary manslaughter, the prosecutors no longer need to look for your intent because involuntary manslaughter is purely unintentional. They must only show that you acted with culpable negligence, which means you have disregarded human lives while engaging in reckless activities or dangerous behaviors.
Furthermore, they must prove that you handled weapons carelessly, used excessive force while defending yourself or others, or used instrumentalities that would result in someone’s death when performed recklessly.
3. Penalties and Sentencing
Since both types are 2nd-degree felonies, you may not find any difference in their penalties and punishments.
The following guidelines are used in sentencing:
- A maximum amount of $10,000 for monetary fines
- A maximum of 15 years in prison
- A maximum of 15 years under criminal probation
Aside from that, some cases may revoke your driver’s license or put you on community service. If you have committed the crime using a dangerous weapon or firearm, your case will fall under 1st-degree felony. That means you will spend 30 years in prison with a maximum fine of $10,000.
Can a Manslaughter Result in More Serious Charges?
If there are several aggravating factors involved in your alleged crime, you may find yourself facing more criminal charges.
Some examples of these factors include:
- The victim is elderly or disabled.
- The victim is a minor or under the age of eighteen.
- The victim is a firefighter, officer, paramedic, or emergency medical technician who has been performing their official duties at the time of their unfortunate death.
If one of these factors is present in your manslaughter case, you could be charged with a first-degree felony. The sentence can be extended to 30 years and a fine of $10,000. However, if you can prove that you did not intend to put the victim to death, the court may punish you with lesser charges.
What are the Defenses for Manslaughter?
Your criminal defense attorney will work with you to build a strong defense to help fight against manslaughter charges. Nevertheless, the outcome will depend on the facts and circumstances regarding the crime.
For instance, you can prove mistaken identity in cases where you are innocent of the offense. You can also strengthen your alibi and argue that you were somewhere else when the crime happened. Moreover, you can also say that the court wrongly accused or arrested you.
Here are some other defenses you might use when charged with voluntary or involuntary manslaughter:
1. Accidental Homicide
The act of committing manslaughter can become excusable and legal once it falls under one of these categories or situations:
- You unintentionally caused the crime due to an accident or misfortune from a heated argument or upon sufficient or sudden provocation.
- You put the victim to death by accident or misfortune while doing a lawful action in lawful means and without the intent of committing the scene.
- The crime resulted from an accident or misfortune of sudden combat, given that you did not use dangerous weapons and did not kill unusually or cruelly.
2. Self Defense
The State of Florida allows the justified use of deadly force, considering that the action is necessary to prevent harm or possible death. In addition, Florida law allows the use of force against someone who has forcefully and unlawfully entered your residence, dwelling, or occupied vehicle.
3. Justifiable Homicide
Lastly, a manslaughter case can be lawful and justifiable if you have done the act to resist an attempt by someone to commit a felony against you or kill you.
Get Legal Help Today
The legal implications of homicide can be tricky and expensive. If you’ve been charged with either voluntary or involuntary manslaughter, you need to find an experienced criminal attorney that can help you navigate through this challenging time.
Legal representation can carefully review the facts and circumstances surrounding the cause of death of an individual, as well as mitigating evidence, in order to build a strong case for your defense.
Contact Hanlon Law today to set up an appointment with an experienced criminal defense attorney.
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Tampa, FL 33602