Manslaughter Law deals primarily with unlawful killings mitigated by a lack of malice or deliberation.
Like first and second-degree murder, manslaughter crimes involve unlawful killings, but they also involve surrounding circumstances that partially justify the defendant's conduct in the eyes of the law. Thus, in a manslaughter case, there may be no doubt that the defendant killed the victim and could likely be convicted of any or all of the above charges.
The main issues in the case are more likely to revolve around the reasonableness of the defendant's actions in light of what was going on at the time the killing took place.
Under a self-defense theory, a defendant cannot be found guilty of a crime if the only crimes charged are murder or manslaughter and the defendant acted in self-defense.
Elements of Voluntary Manslaughter are also considered defenses in England and Wales.
Voluntary manslaughter is the unlawful and intentional killing of another human being, without malice or deliberation, upon a sudden heat of passion resulting from adequate provocation.
Typical scenarios where the accused commits voluntary manslaughter include coming home unexpectedly to find their spouse in bed with another person or discovering their spouse is cheating on or abusing the defendant.
If you murder the victim with this example, whether the defendant will be guilty or not will be determined by how the defendant acted once he found the victim in bed with someone else. If the defendant can establish that there was little or no "cooling off period" before the defendant did the action, the defendant may be guilty of voluntary manslaughter.
The Issue of Proper Context
One way to understand manslaughter (the crime of unlawfully killing another person) is to describe it as filling the grey area between a murder and an excusable killing. If the prosecutor can prove that the defendant is guilty of manslaughter, he should face a penalty for that crime, not a murder charge. However, unlike other crimes where a specific penalty is associated with a specific (and low) degree of guilt, manslaughter is unique.
The provocation was adequate if an average person in the defendant's position would have reacted the way the defendant did. This is an objective test, and any voluntary manslaughter case will hinge on wheels of the adequate provocation.
Now, let's consider another way of taking another person's life, and contrast it with our earlier example. Say a gardener prized rose, a trespasser tramples bushes, and he rushes out and kills this person in a fit of rage. He is guilty of murder.
True, the trespasser's actions provoked the gardenerhe was right there, trampling all over his prized rose bushes! But, as you may recall, actions that provoke a person do not absolve that person of responsibility. This is true even if the provocateur's actions were entirely reasonablea perfectly natural and understandable punch-up, as in our second example.
And if viewed objectively, the trespasser's actions do not warrant such a response because a reasonable person in the gardener's situation would not have lost control to murdering this trespasser.
In this case, the jury must do more than measure the defendant's conduct against common sense notions of human behavior. They must measure it against common sense notions of the reasonably provoked person's behavior under similar circumstances.
Inappropriate Use of Alcohol or Drugs
The second kind is involuntary manslaughter which is committed when it is done with the unintentional malice brought about by an act of carelessness, recklessness, or criminal negligence. In such cases, the perpetrator is found guilty of a homicide offense not because of their intention for murder but because of their lack of feeling for human life. A typical example of involuntary manslaughter is an inebriated driver causing an accident that claims an innocent life.
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