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Voluntary vs. Involuntary Manslaughter

Manslaughter is a complicated area of the law, to say the least. It’s essentially the charge that prosecutors can dole out if a homicide does not meet Florida’s legal definition of murder. This can be a murky area for all people involved, but it can get even more complex once the charge is classified as either voluntary or involuntary. Many people actually have no idea what distinguishes these two charges, but the defense strategy and potential outcome vary greatly. Here, we will talk about what each term really means and what it could mean in the courtroom.

Voluntary Manslaughter

Voluntary manslaughter means that a person’s action during a heated moment caused the death of another human being. Often, voluntary manslaughter includes crimes of passion or perhaps a bar fight gone wrong. Basically, the accused acted on raw emotion which led to another person’s death. There was no plan or true intent. However, the actions of the accused ultimately caused the demise of that person, even if they didn’t mean to. The burden is on the prosecution to prove otherwise.

Involuntary Manslaughter

In the event that the prosecution can prove that the accused acted in gross negligence for human life, then involuntary manslaughter will most likely be the charge. Basically, if the average person could have identified the threat of their actions, then that means that the individual was not being mindful of the safety of others. We all have a duty to make sure that our actions don’t infringe on the safety of others and not doing that is considered a punishable crime.  Specific circumstances and state of mind of the accused will play a role in whether or not this charge will stick. However, prosecution can use this charge in instances where a person used excessive force for self-defense, or acted reckless while operating a vehicle, driving drunk, or dangerously handling a weapon.

Potential Outcomes

While there is certainly no way to know what the outcome of a specific case will be, there are guidelines for sentencing people found guilty of manslaughter. Manslaughter itself is considered a 2nd degree felony unless the crime was committed against a child or elderly person. In that event, it becomes a 1st degree felony and the charge is aggravated manslaughter.  A person could be sent to prison for up to 15 years and fined $10,000. Specifics of the crime as well as criminal history will play a role in sentencing. If you prove to be a habitual criminal, then you may receive a harsher punishment than someone with a clear record.

Legal Defense

If you are located in the West Palm Beach area and need quality defense, reach out to the law offices of Scott Skier. Attorney Skier is well-versed in many areas of criminal law and he is there to help you. Whether you are facing manslaughter charges or any other criminal issue, he can make an aggressive defense strategy for you. Allow his years of experience to help you through this difficult time. Contact him today for a free consultation.

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