In the United States, our legal system follows the general principle that manslaughter — the crime of killing a human being without malice or premeditation — involves causing the death of another person in a manner less than murder.
This principle follows the distinction between voluntary and involuntary manslaughter.
What Is Voluntary Manslaughter?
An individual can be charged with voluntary manslaughter if he or she intended to seriously harm or kill another person but acted in the moment under circumstances that could cause a reasonable person to become mentally or emotionally disturbed.
Voluntary manslaughter is often described as a crime of passion.
The provocation must be the reason that made the accused lose control in a short amount of time. That means the accused failed to compose themself before the act of killing, which makes the timing of the act important. If the accused composed themselves, waited several hours, and then retaliated, murder charges may more accurately apply.
What Is Involuntary Manslaughter?
Involuntary manslaughter is the killing of a human being without the expressed or implied intent of doing so.
Involuntary manslaughter occurs when the accused unintentionally kills another person while engaging in reckless behavior or committing another crime.
This means there was no intent or malice when the loss of life occurred.
This can occur during criminally negligent manslaughter or vehicular manslaughter cases.
Criminally negligent manslaughter is an omission to act when there is a duty to do so, which leads to death.
It may be difficult to impose criminal liability for a failure to act unless a specific duty is owed to the victim.
Vehicular manslaughter is the killing of another person while recklessly operating a motor vehicle.
This can include DUI cases but may also include drivers who are aware that they are driving dangerously or recklessly and could harm others but ignore the risks.
If you have been charged with manslaughter in Washington D.C. and Maryland, contact our Washington D.C. violent crimes lawyers at Lotze Mosley, LLP today by calling (202) 393-0535 to discuss your charges, so we can design a strategy to produce the best results for your unique case.