Manslaughter is a very serious criminal offense that involves the death of an individual who has been killed in a manner less malicious than murder.The difference between murder and manslaughter is the determination of the state of mind of the perpetrator during the incident.For a murder incident, the state of mind is characterized by malice aforethought, meaning that the individual proceeded with intent to kill and a willful disregard for life.
Voluntary vs. Involuntary Manslaughter
Manslaughter is generally broken down into two different sections: voluntary and involuntary manslaughter. Involuntary manslaughter involves the criminally negligent. This means that individuals do not intend to cause harm, but someone is inadvertently killed as a result.Voluntary manslaughter is different from murder in that the state of mind is provoked by the circumstances of a situation.
Examples of voluntary manslaughter include provocation, heat of passion, imperfect self-defense and diminished responsibility.Provocation is considered to be a change in the state of mind due to a particular situation that thrust the individual (who would otherwise be a reasonable human being) into a state of hysteria. Heat of passion is an example of provocation, the most notable example of which an individual encounters a stranger harming his or her child or copulating with his or her lover.
Involuntary manslaughter is a much different story. This is characterized by recklessness. The most common forms of involuntary manslaughter are vehicular and intoxication manslaughter. In an involuntary manslaughter case, the individual engages in the activity not meaning to cause harm, perhaps for entertainment, and someone is killed in the process. This is an accurate description of what would be considered recklessness.
Sometimes, these charges can be mistaken and while there are always many sides to a story, not everyone is heard. If you would like to explore your legal options due to being involved in a manslaughter case, call the San Jose criminal defense lawyer at the Law Office of Daniel Jensen, P.C. at (408) 296-4100.