Manslaughter charges are some of the most serious charges in California and federal courts. Take the time to read below to find out what it means to be charged with manslaughter in California or federal courts and what a manslaughter attorney can do to help your case.

What is Homicide?

Put simply, homicide is the killing of human being. Homicide itself is not criminal in nature. In the civil context, homicide is also alleged as a wrongful death action. In the criminal context it is called criminal homicide. Criminal homicide occurs when a person unlawfully and knowingly, recklessly, or negligently causes the death of another human being.

Depending on the circumstances, criminal homicide can be one of several crimes. Most commonly, homicides are categorized as murders or manslaughters.

What is Manslaughter?

Manslaughter is a classification of criminal homicide that is less serious than murder. Manslaughter can either be voluntary or involuntary. The main difference between murder and manslaughter is that often manslaughter is the result of conflict between the defendant and the victim where the victim contributed to the conflict. Manslaughter can also be a catchall type of homicide where mitigating circumstances make the defendant's behavior understandable, but not excusable.

What is Voluntary Manslaughter?

Voluntary manslaughter is where the defendant acted willfully but was somewhat justified in their actions. For example, a child who kills an abusive parent when they feel no other avenue exists. Sentences for voluntary manslaughter are less than murder but more than involuntary manslaughter.

Murder charges may be reduced to a type of voluntary manslaughter called heat of passion if the defendant was adequately provoked, there was no opportunity to cool off, and there was a causal relationship between the provocation, the rage, the anger, and the fatal act. The usual example is the killing of the lover of a cheating spouse upon catching the cheating.

What is Involuntary Manslaughter?

Involuntary manslaughter refers to two type of homicides: criminal negligence manslaughter and unlawful act manslaughter. Criminal negligent manslaughter is the crime of causing the death of a person by negligent or reckless conduct. Unlawful act manslaughter is where the defendant committed a crime that resulted in the death of a person. Many traffic deaths fall into this category, although sometimes it is referred to as homicide by vehicle or vehicular manslaughter.

Regardless of which type of manslaughter you are charged with, in federal or California courts, it is important you contact and eventually hire an experienced  manslaughter attorney who knows how to defend these cases. Call the federal and California criminal defense law firm of Nicco Capozzi at (559) 374-2012 for further questions.