Homicide crimes are punished at the highest capacity in California. Voluntary manslaughter is one of them; although not as severe as murder, it carries stiff penalties. These are the state’s laws on voluntary manslaughter.
Understanding voluntary manslaughter
Voluntary manslaughter occurs when a person intentionally kills someone in the heat of passion. Unlike a crime like murder, it’s not premeditated. For example, a man discovers that his wife is cheating on him with his best friend when he comes home and sees them in bed together. He acts impulsively while in a rage and grabs the bedside lamp and strikes his friend in the head with a fatal blow. Because the crime was not planned ahead of time, when the man is arrested, he is charged with voluntary manslaughter.
In some cases, depending on the circumstances, charges of voluntary manslaughter may be elevated to murder. However, regardless, anyone who faces such charges needs a strong criminal defense to have any chance of maintaining their freedom.
Voluntary manslaughter is classified as a felony, meaning there is a range of potential sentences for a conviction. A person could face one year in county jail and probation or three, six or 11 years in state prison.
Defenses to voluntary manslaughter charges
Three main defenses can be used in a voluntary manslaughter case. One of the most common is the insanity defense, which means that the defendant was legally insane at that moment. It means that the individual was unaware that they were doing something morally wrong and did not understand the nature of the act.
Self-defense and defense of others can also be used to defend against voluntary manslaughter. It means the defendant acted to prevent themselves or someone else from being robbed, killed, raped or harmed in some other way.
Another common defense is to argue that the killing was accidental. If it can be proven that the defendant had no intent to kill the victim, this defense might get the charges reduced or even dropped.
All homicide charges can change a person’s life. The best chance of beating them is having the strongest defense possible.