Voluntary Manslaughter occurs when someone intentionally kills another person, but acts in the moment or “heat of passion” with no prior malice, after provocation or in imperfect self-defense. The circumstances leading to the killing must be the kind that would cause a reasonable person to become emotionally or mentally disturbed; otherwise, the killing may be charged as a first or second degree murder.
The difference between voluntary manslaughter and murder is there is no malice aforethought involved in voluntary manslaughter, and there is no premeditation.
“Heat of passion” most often refers to an emotion that becomes irresistable and that an ordinarily reasonable person would experience under the same facts and circumstances. The irresistible impulse contrasts with the idea of premeditation present in first degree murder.
A defendant facing a voluntary manslaughter charge might attempt to prove their innocence by claiming several defenses; they didn’t commit the crime, they were insane, their actions were justified in self defense, or their behavior didn’t meet the elements of voluntary manslaughter. A defendant could also claim that the killing was accidental, which would then cause a reduction of the charge to an involuntary manslaughter charge.
The court will hand down the punishment that the state or federal government will impose upon the defendant after a defendant has been convicted of voluntary manslaughter by a jury. The exact sentence depends on a number of factors.
If you are suspected of or have been charged with a Homicide, this is a very serious charge!
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