Voluntary manslaughter is an offense you commit when you kill another person as a result of a quarrel or in the heat of passion. In most cases, the offense is not charged on its own, resulting in a reduction in murder charges. When you face murder charges, a competent criminal defense attorney can help you get a voluntary manslaughter plea bargain, which is a lesser offense. In California, voluntary manslaughter is charged as a felony, and a conviction attracts serious legal penalties in the form of a prison sentence and probation. If you or your loved one is battling charges for voluntary manslaughter, you will require legal guidance to navigate the case. At The Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney, we work hard to try and get the best possible outcome in your case.
Overview of Voluntary Manslaughter
You can be arrested and charged with voluntary manslaughter when you kill another person in the heat of passion or after a sudden quarrel. The difference between voluntary manslaughter and murder is that a murder case will require proof of an intention to kill. Voluntary manslaughter is charged under California Penal Code 192, and it often arises as a plea bargain to murder cases. You can also be charged with this offense when you recklessly disregard for human life and cause death.
The following are elements of voluntary manslaughter that a prosecutor needs to prove when trying to secure a conviction in California:
- You committed an act that caused the death of another person. Before you are convicted for voluntary manslaughter, it should be clear that your actions resulted in the alleged victim’s death. If the death was not a direct and natural consequence of your actions, you could not be convicted for this offense.
- When you acted, you unlawfully intended to kill another person. In a voluntary manslaughter criminal case, the prosecutor needs to show that you acted with a conscious disregard for human life. A prosecutor could show that you acted in disregard for human life if you were aware of the danger you were posing to the alleged victim.
- You killed another person in a sudden quarrel. Killing someone in a sudden quarrel or the heat of passion means that you were provoked, and as a result of the provocation, you acted rashly. Also, the provocation that crowded your judgment would have caused an average person to act in the same way. When you act under the influence of intense emotions, it clears that you had a malice aforethought to kill.
- You were under the heat of passion. For voluntary manslaughter, the heat of passion refers to the sudden intense emotions that cause a person to act impulsively. If you had time to cool off between the time you were provoked and the time you acted, you might be held guilty for premeditated murder. However, California law has not stipulated the exact criteria to constitute sufficient provocation. Your reaction
- At the time you committed the offense, you did not have a malice aforethought. Malice aforethought occurs when you act with an intent to kill another person. If you were just reckless and did not have a preplanned thought to kill the alleged victim, you are charged with voluntary manslaughter.
An example of voluntary manslaughter is when an individual finds their spouse in bed with another person and kills them. In this case, a person acts out of anger and in the heat of the moment. Causing death was not a planned act, and thus it lacks a malice aforethought. Therefore, such an individual will face charges and be convicted for voluntary manslaughter.
In your voluntary manslaughter criminal case, the prosecutor has a considerable burden to prove the above elements without a reasonable doubt. You can try to create doubt in the prosecutor’s evidence on the elements with the guidance of a competent criminal defense attorney. This will give you a chance to fight the charges.
Legal Penalties for California Penal Code 192
Voluntary manslaughter is a serious offense that is charged as a felony in California. A conviction for this offense will attract the following legal penalties:
- A prison sentence ranging from three to eleven years. The sentence will depend on the circumstances of your case as well as your criminal history. This would be a lower sentence than a murder conviction that carries a prison sentence of fifteen years to life.
- A potential strike in your record under the three-strike law. If you get a strike in your record, future convictions for felony offenses will have an increased sentence.
- Fines not exceeding ten thousand dollars($10,000).
- Penal Code 192 is charged as a felony. If you are convicted of voluntary manslaughter in California, you will likely lose your rights to own or use a firearm.
- Mandatory attendance to anger management classes. In most cases, voluntary manslaughter results from a sudden quarrel or in the heat of passion. After a conviction, you will be required to attend classes to manage your anger.
- You could serve community service or are subjected to any other conditions related to your case’s circumstances.
Legal Defenses for Voluntary Manslaughter Charges
A conviction for voluntary manslaughter in California attracts severe legal penalties. Fortunately, facing criminal charges does not always mean you will be convicted. With guidance from a competent criminal defense attorney, you can present the following defenses for your case:
When you face charges for voluntary manslaughter, the prosecutor has the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that you committed the offense. Claiming that you did not commit the offense whatsoever is the best possible voluntary defense for voluntary manslaughter. The defense will be effective is the prosecutor is unable to prove the elements of the crime. Your attorney could also help you attack and dispute the validity of the evidence presented by the prosecutor. If the court finds a reasonable doubt in your guilt, you will have a chance to fight the charges.
Self Defense and Defense for Others
In California, self-defense laws justify killing another if you committed the offense when protecting yourself or another person from being killed. If you were preventing murder or rape, you could use self-defense as a defense to your case. Self-defense could be perfect and imperfect. Imperfect self-defense explains that you killed another person under the impression that it posed a danger to your life. If the belief was unreasonable, you could not be absorbed into the criminal charges.
When you face charges for voluntary manslaughter, it should be clear that you intentionally killed another person. Sometimes an accidental killing could attract charges for voluntary manslaughter. As a defense for this offense, you can claim that you caused another person accidentally. Since voluntary manslaughter has the element of intent, an accidental killing defense could reduce your charges to involuntary manslaughter. This will result in lesser penalties when you are convicted.
Intoxication will not excuse you from criminal behavior in California. However, if intoxication was involuntary, you can use it as self-defense in your voluntary manslaughter criminal case. Also, if you are facing murder charges, your charges could be reduced to manslaughter. However, you should prove that you were drugged, or the intoxication was accidental.
If you think you were not in the right mind when you committed the offense, you can use insanity as a defense. Insanity means that you did not understand the nature and consequences of your actions. Therefore, if it is clear that you committed the offense with an unsound mind, you cannot be held accountable for voluntary manslaughter. Insanity could be the inability to tell right and wrong, or you are unable to control your actions. However, the exact standard for insanity will vary depending on the circumstances of your case. In such cases, you may be required to receive treatment in a mental institution and are not allowed to leave as long as you are a danger to society.
The legal process of presenting defenses to a voluntary manslaughter case could be complicated. Therefore, you must navigate the process with guidance from a competent criminal defense attorney.
Voluntary Manslaughter is a Plea Bargain from Murder Charges
In California, voluntary manslaughter is often a defense for murder charges. If you face charges for murder under California Penal Code 187, you can try to get your charges reduced to manslaughter, which is a lesser offense. This can be done by disregarding malice aforethought in your case. You can also show that you acted after a sudden quarrel, and your legal penalties will significantly be reduced. It would be wise to consult an attorney for a better chance of getting a voluntary manslaughter plea bargain.
Offenses Related to Penal Code 192 of California
Voluntary manslaughter is a serious offense in California. Several other offenses can be charged instead of or together with voluntary manslaughter. Offenses related to Penal Code 192 of California Include:
Murder is the unlawful killing of another person with a malice aforethought. For this offense, a malice aforethought is the intention or preplanned thought to commit murder. There are several forms of murder, and they are charged depending on the circumstances under which the offense occurred. Before you are convicted for a murder charge, the prosecutor is required to prove the following elements:
- Unlawful Killing - In California, murder is an aggravated crime and is always unlawful. In your criminal case, the prosecutor needs to show the unlawful manner in which you committed the offense.
- Malice Aforethought - Malice aforethought is the wanton disregard for human life. This occurs when you engage in an act that has a high probability of resulting in the death of a person. However, it is crucial to understand that malice aforethought does not require hatred or ill will against the alleged victim.
If you are convicted for murder in California, you will face penalties including:
- A prison sentence ranges from fifteen to twenty-five years, depending on the type of murder you are convicted of.
- Fines of up to ten thousand dollars
- A strike on your record under California three strikes law
- Victim restitution where you are required to compensate the family of the deceased for the wrongful death
- A conviction for murder will cause you to lose the right to own or use a firearm
In most cases, when you are charged with murder, you can seek a plea bargain for voluntary manslaughter. When you are charged for manslaughter instead of murder, you will face lesser penalties. The process of getting a voluntary manslaughter plea bargain when facing murder charges could be complicated. Therefore, it is crucial to enlist the help of a competent criminal defense attorney.
DUI murder is a form of second-degree murder charged when you kill another person while driving under the influence of alcohol. Your disregard for other people’s safety must be apparent when you are convicted for DUI murder. The following are essential elements of DUI murder that need to be cleared up before you are convicted:
- You committed an intentional act that resulted in the death of another person. In this case, the deliberate act could be driving under the influence of alcohol or other drugs.
- The obvious consequences of your actions posed a danger to human life
- You acted with a conscious disregard to the danger you were posing on other people
An intention to kill is not required for you to be convicted for DUI Watson. However, the prosecutor must establish that you knew about the risks of drunk driving. This can be done by showing that you have a prior conviction for a drunk driving-related offense in California. It should also be clear that you attended DUI education programs where you were taught the dangers of DUI.
A conviction for DUI Watson in California attracts the following legal penalties:
- A prison sentence of up to fifteen years that is served in California State Prison
- Fines not exceeding ten thousand dollars($10,000)
- A strike on your record under California three strikes law. This will cause a doubled sentence for subsequent convictions. If you have two or more strikes on your record, you risk facing a mandatory sentence of twenty-five years to life.
Involuntary manslaughter is the unintentional killing of another person while committing an offense that is not a dangerous felony. An intention to kill is not a requirement in an involuntary manslaughter case. However, before you are convicted for this offense, the prosecutor must prove these elements of the crime:
- You committed an infraction or misdemeanor. For voluntary, manslaughter the actions that led to death do not have to be criminal or dangerous to human life.
- You committed the crime with criminal negligence. Criminal negligence occurs when you act in a reckless manner that puts another person’s life in danger. Before you are convicted for this offense, the prosecutor must prove that you acted in criminal negligence.
- Your actions caused the death of another person. You will only be convicted for involuntary manslaughter if another person’s death was a natural or direct consequence of your actions. Regardless of the extent of injuries, you caused a person, if death did not occur, you could not be convicted. If you face charges for voluntary manslaughter in California, you can seek to have your charges reduced to involuntary manslaughter. This is done by showing that you did not act with disregard for human life. In this case, you will face a lesser penalty.
Involuntary manslaughter is charged under California Penal Code192(b), and a conviction attracts the following legal penalties:
- Formal probation. If you are sentenced to formal probation, you are required to adhere to all terms of probation
- A prison sentence ranging from two to four years
- Fines that do not exceed $10,000
A conviction for involuntary manslaughter is likely to trigger a lawsuit from the family of the deceased. If you are facing charges for this offense, you will require a personal injury attorney’s guidance.
You commit an offense of vehicular manslaughter when you cause the death of another person while driving a vehicle. Before you are convicted for vehicular manslaughter, the prosecutor must prove these elements:
- When driving a car, you committed an infraction or a lawful act in a manner that might cause death. The acts that you committed and resulted in vehicular manslaughter do not need to be a felony.
- Under the circumstances, your actions put another person’s life in danger.
- You acted in gross or ordinary negligence. Gross negligence is acting recklessly in a way that puts another person’s life at risk. Also, it should be clear that you acted unreasonably.
- You caused the death of another person. For you to be convicted of vehicular manslaughter, your actions must result in another person’s death. Your actions do not have to be the only cause of death. However, it should be a contributing factor to the injuries that led to death.
If you face charges for voluntary manslaughter where you caused death while driving a vehicle, you can be charged for vehicular manslaughter. California Penal Code 192(c) is a wobbler and is charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. This will depend on the circumstances of the offense and your criminal history. When charged as a misdemeanor, vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence has the following penalties:
- Misdemeanor probation
- A jail sentence of up to one year
- Fines of up to one thousand dollars.
On the other hand, a felony conviction will result in the following legal consequences:
- Felony Probation
- Imprisonment in the California state prison for a period of up to six years
- Fines not exceeding ten thousand dollars
- If you are convicted for vehicular manslaughter in California, the Department of Motor Vehicle will revoke your driving privileges. Also, you will not be allowed to reinstate your license until the three years revocation period ends.
If you are convicted of vehicular manslaughter, you will suffer serious legal consequences in California. Fortunately, a competent criminal defense attorney could help you present defenses so you can avoid the penalties.
In California, attempted murder is the offense you commit when you make a step towards killing another person. A prosecutor must prove these elements when trying to get you convicted for attempted murder:
- You took a step towards another person’s life. A direct step towards killing requires not only a plan but putting the plan in motion
- You had an intention to kill the alleged victim. A prosecutor needs to prove your intent to kill before you are convicted for attempted murder. A plan to injure another person is not enough to get you convicted.
The penalties for attempted murder in California include:
- A prison sentence of up to nine years depending on the degree of attempted murder you committed
- Fines not exceeding $10,000
- Victim restitution where you will be required to compensate the victims
- Loss of your gun rights
- A strike in your record under the three-strike law
If you face charges for attempted murder, your attorney could help you have the charges reduced to attempted voluntary manslaughter. This will be possible if it is clear that your intention to kill did not have malice aforethought that constitutes murder. If you are facing charges for attempted murder, you will require guidance from an attorney.
Fight Voluntary Manslaughter Charges with Help from an Attorney Near Me
When you cause another person’s death during an argument or based on an unreasonable belief, you will find yourself facing charges under California Penal Code 192. Even when it is a plea bargain for murder, voluntary manslaughter charges could be devastating. This is as a result of the serious legal penalties that accompany a conviction for this offense. Fortunately, there are available defenses you can present in an attempt to escape the harsh legal consequences. When you are battling voluntary manslaughter charges, you will significantly benefit from legal guidance from The Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney. Contact us today at 310-564-2605 and allow us to take charge of your case.