You might think that a manslaughter charge is a simple and straightforward charge to defend, but that assumption would be very wrong and could cost you your freedom for the next three to thirty years in the state of Alabama. It is important that you understand the fundamentals of a manslaughter charge, from the two basic kinds of manslaughter to the different subcategories associated with each kind.
Keep in mind that this is purely informative in nature, and should not be viewed as legal advice or counsel!
Two Basic Types of Manslaughter
There are two basic categories of manslaughter recognized in most of the United States, known as:
1. Voluntary manslaughter. You committed the act knowing that it could cause a death, but this is a lesser charge than murder. For instance, if you catch your wife cheating and kill her lover in the heat of the moment, it is likely going to be charged as voluntary manslaughter.
2. Involuntary manslaughter. You caused the death, but not intentionally. This is a common charge for those who cause a death by vehicle, such as DUI-related incidents. Sometimes this charge is known as criminally negligent homicide.
Definition of Voluntary Manslaughter
Once you have discovered what your basic charge is, we will give you more details about the type of charge, so that we can work together to begin building the right kind of defense in your case. The basic type affects the sentencing in this type of case, with voluntary manslaughter being the more serious charge in many cases. That said, there are a few different subcategories associated with voluntary manslaughter, which deal with the underlying cause of the crime. They are:
· Provocation. There are specific laws regarding provocation in the state of Alabama, and we have experience with these laws so that we know when to use this as a defense in your case. One example is a crime committed in the heat of passion. A person does not act rationally under those circumstances, and may commit a crime that he or she would not normally commit otherwise.
· Imperfect. The most common reason for an imperfect voluntary manslaughter is self-defense. If someone attacks you or someone you love, and you kill him or her, it can be classified under this category.
· Diminished responsibility or lack of responsibility/liability. Normally, you will need to prove a decreased mental capacity or mental illness in order to utilize this defense.
· Insanity. Similar to diminished responsibility claims, the difference is that if you are found not guilty by reason of insanity, you could spend the rest of your life in a mental institution.
· Infanticide. Postpartum depression can cause a mother to do the unthinkable.
Definition of Involuntary Manslaughter
Involuntary manslaughter also has a few different subcategories, mostly based on how the crime occurred and what caused the person or persons’ death. These are:
· Criminally negligent. This happens when someone acts in a manner so irresponsible and negligent that it causes someone to die. For instance, if a landlord knows that the stairs are broken and does nothing to fix them, and someone falls down the stairs and dies, the landlord may be charged with criminally negligent involuntary manslaughter.
· Unlawful act/constructive manslaughter. Referring to a death that occurs as a result of someone committing what is classified as a misdemeanor. In other words, you committed a misdemeanor without the intention of anyone getting hurt or killed. For instance, if you give someone an over the counter medication, but they die from a drug interaction with something you had no idea they were taking, it could be classified in this way.
Contact us to schedule your initial consultation and begin building a successful defense today! We are licensed to practice law in both Alabama and Georgia, with more than twenty years of experience in a wide variety of practice areas.