Voluntary vs. involuntary manslaughter

Written by margaret lucas agius
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Voluntary vs. involuntary manslaughter
Manslaughter may be either voluntary or involuntary. (casket image by enens from Fotolia.com)

Definitions, categories and degrees of crimes involving the death of another person, as well as the penalties for those crimes, can seem confusing. One of those is manslaughter, which can be charged as voluntary or involuntary.

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Manslaughter Defined

Manslaughter is the illegal killing of another without acting with malice.

Voluntary Manslaughter Defined

Voluntary manslaughter results from a deliberate act done without malice or premeditation. That act is done in the heat of passion or as the result of an unexpected provocation.

Involuntary Manslaughter Defined

Involuntary manslaughter results from the failure to perform a legal duty explicitly required to protect another person. It may occur during the commission of a criminal act that is less than a felony, or during the commission of a legal act involving a risk of death or injury done if it was done in a manner that is illegal, reckless or grossly negligent.

Voluntary Manslaughter Penalties

Federal law makes voluntary manslaughter punishable by a fine, imprisonment for not more than 10 years, or both. Penalties for state convictions of manslaughter vary by state.

Involuntary Manslaughter Penalties

Federal law makes involuntary manslaughter punishable by a fine, imprisonment for not more than six years, or both. Penalties for state convictions of involuntary manslaughter vary by state.

Famous Ties

The Los Angeles district attorney charged Dr. Conrad Murray with involuntary manslaughter in the 2009 death of Michael Jackson. If convicted, Murray faces a possible maximum four-year prison term.

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