Did you know there have been almost 24,600 cases of murder or non-negligent manslaughter in the United States in 2022 thus far? Although it can be tempting to lump them together as the cited statistic did, murder and manslaughter are not the same things.

They carry different sentences and different convictions. Just as murder has different degrees, there are different types of manslaughter.

If you’ve ever found yourself wondering what those are and how they differ, you’ve come to the right place. We’ll explain everything you need to know about manslaughter charges, as well as how they differ from murder charges. All you need to do is keep reading.

Manslaughter vs. Murder

As stated before, murder and manslaughter charges differ. This difference can be small, though, and is often tricky for people to figure out.

The main difference is that murder is dependent on the alleged intent of the person who committed the crime. This intent is also referred to as malice.

When the state can prove that someone specifically intended to kill another person, that is express malice. Implied malice is when someone acts in a dangerous way, with the knowledge that those actions are dangerous and ignoring the consequences.

Manslaughter is when a killing occurs without malice. If malice is not clearly proven, a criminal defense lawyer may be able to plead charges down to manslaughter.

There are several different types of manslaughter, which we will explain shortly. Unlike manslaughter, however, there are only two degrees of murder.

Murder in the first degree is when the killing was committed intentionally and planned out. It is the prosecutor’s responsibility to prove that the murderer had planned the murder.

Murder in the second degree is a lesser charge. The act possibly was not planned ahead of time. However, it is still an intentional and willful act that results in the death of another person.

The Types of Manslaughter

There are two types of manslaughter, known as voluntary and involuntary. As stated before, sometimes a murder charge may end up being reduced to a manslaughter charge.

Voluntary Manslaughter

Voluntary manslaughter occurs when a person’s direct actions harm or cause the death of another. This crime, unlike murder, doesn’t carry malice but can carry intent. This may be because the people involved just had an argument or a fight, causing a situation where emotions run high.

Another reason why this might occur is if a person acts in what they believe is self-defense. They may have felt like it was their only option and acted accordingly. Examining the circumstances, however, reveals that killing was not the only option for self-defense.

Lastly, a third type of voluntary manslaughter could be aiding suicide. One example of this is when a terminally ill patient asks their doctor for a potentially lethal prescription. The doctor, knowing what the patient intends to do, gives them the medication anyways.

Involuntary Manslaughter

Involuntary manslaughter occurs when a person is killed unintentionally. This is typically because a person was aware that their actions were negligent, but chose to carry on with their actions anyways. Apart from being caused by reckless acts, it can also be caused when a non-felony crime occurs during the killing.

The best example of involuntary manslaughter is known as vehicular manslaughter, which happens when someone is killed while reckless driving occurs. Reckless driving can be anything from racing to driving under the influence.

A final example of manslaughter that can fall into either category is manslaughter of an unborn child. This happens when someone knows the mother is pregnant and knowingly or recklessly commits actions that end up killing the unborn child.

It is important to note that the child’s mother cannot get charged with this. Nor can authorized abortions or people who gave medical treatment to the mother or her unborn child.

Manslaughter Conviction and Various Sentences

If you have been convicted of manslaughter, there are varying lengths of sentences you may have to serve.

Interestingly enough, vehicular manslaughter is the one manslaughter charge that can be considered a misdemeanor instead of a felony. If charged with a misdemeanor, that’s simply a hundred fifty days in jail and a fine. If charged with a felony, it carries the same sentence as typical involuntary manslaughter.

Involuntary manslaughter is a Class F felony. This is not one of the most severe cases of felony, nor is it the mildest. Involuntary manslaughter carries a sentence between thirteen months (a year and a month) to six years.

Voluntary manslaughter is a Class D felony. This means it’s generally considered worse than involuntary manslaughter. If found guilty of voluntary manslaughter, you could be sentenced anywhere from fifty-one months (four and a quarter years) to ten years in jail.

If manslaughter charges of any type have been brought against you, take them seriously, but do not panic. Make sure that you hire an experienced criminal defense lawyer. They are best able to represent you and plead your case.

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