There are times when someone kills another person and their criminal charges can be diminished from murder to the lesser charge of manslaughter. Situations where a defendant commits murder because of provocation or acts out of intense and uncontrollable emotions that impair the defendant’s ability to reason are seen differently in a court of law. If the act was spur-of-the-moment and not done by someone who calculated or premeditated their actions, the murder might be seen as a manslaughter.
To prove that a murder was manslaughter, a jury has to agree that any other person in a similar circumstance encountering the same conditions would have taken the same actions without rationality or deliberation. Manslaughter does not have to involve any defined emotion such as rage or anger. Manslaughter often comes into play when the defendant was provoked. Provocation, in this case, is broad and does not have any specific definition or qualification. It can be short-lived or long-lasting. Although provocation is the cornerstone of any manslaughter case, it alone is not enough to reduce a murder charge to manslaughter. To prove manslaughter, the defendant must be able to show the jury that their actions were warranted due to the provoking circumstances and that, if any other reasonable person were in a similar circumstance, they likewise would have retaliated with the same force or similar action.
Another factor considered when determining manslaughter is the length of time between being provoked and the homicide itself. If a defendant had sufficient time to cool off, then the argument of irrational thought and lack of judgment is not likely to hold up against a jury. An experienced homicide attorney can evaluate your case to see if you have a viable manslaughter defense.
Voluntary manslaughter is a lesser from of homicide. Often, defendants charged with murder present a self-defense argument. If you were truly acting in self-defense, the killing will be seen as justified. If you believed you were acting in self-defense but your belief was no objectively reasonable, you may be convicted of voluntary manslaughter.
Involuntary manslaughter is the least serious from of homicide. If a person kills another human without the intent to do so, or does not act with callous disregard for the life of another, then it is possible for the murder to be reduced to involuntary manslaughter. To be convicted of involuntary manslaughter, the defendant must neither be aware that their actions could result in a homicide nor consciously act with disregard for the life of another. An experienced homicide attorney will be able to evaluate your case to determine whether your case presents facts that would warrant the reduced homicide charge of involuntary manslaughter.
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