Understanding Manslaughter Charges in Los Angeles

August 12, 2016

If you or a loved one was involved in an incident that resulted in the unlawful killing of a human being, you are likely facing manslaughter charges.2 However, there are various types of manslaughter charges carrying varying degrees of penalties. Under California law, you could be charged with voluntary manslaughter, involuntary manslaughter, or vehicular manslaughter, depending on the facts of your case.

Understanding Involuntary Manslaughter

Involuntary manslaughter is the unintentional killing of a human being that occurs while a crime is being committed or you or a loved one is engaged in reckless conduct during a lawful activity. For example, if you and a friend are out duck hunting and you accidentally shoot your friend, you could be charged with involuntary manslaughter. Some people think that hitting and killing someone while you are driving under the influence is involuntary manslaughter. However, under California law, killing someone while you are operating a vehicle has its own distinct charge, vehicular homicide, which has its own set of unique penalties.


Understanding Voluntary Manslaughter

Voluntary manslaughter is quite different from involuntary manslaughter and vehicular homicide. There needs to be evidence that you or a loved one killed another human being during a sudden quarrel or in the heat of passion, according to California Penal Code §§ 187 – 199. A common example is if you come home and find your spouse in bed with another individual. However, if a period of time elapsed from the act of provocation and the death, a prosecutor could still charge you with murder. In fact, California law requires a prosecutor to bring a murder charge if you or a loved one had a sufficient “cooling period” between the act of provocation and the homicide. Take the prior example of a cheating spouse. If you come home and find your spouse in bed with another person, but take no action. Instead, you calculate and plan the death of your cheating spouse, or the other party, and allow days or weeks to pass, that is evidence of malice aforethought which gives a prosecutor the basis to charge you with murder.


Defending Against Manslaughter Charges

If you or a loved one is facing manslaughter charges, speak to an experienced Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer about your legal options. There are defenses that can be raised to reduce the charge or exonerate you or a loved one.

For example, common defenses to an involuntary manslaughter charge is self-defense, involuntary intoxication, lack of mental capacity, or the accidental death occurred absent any reckless conduct.

If you are facing voluntary manslaughter charges, you could also raise self-defense as a basis for avoiding a conviction. You could also argue that you reasonably believed that deadly force was needed to avoid imminent death or severe bodily injury.


Serious Penalties Associated with Manslaughter Charges

Manslaughter charges can result in quite serious penalties. For example, involuntary manslaughter is treated as a felony which can carry a multi-year prison sentence. The same goes for a voluntary manslaughter conviction, though voluntary manslaughter typically carries a longer prison sentence.


Contact a Los Angeles Manslaughter Defense Lawyer Today

Do not fight serious manslaughter charges alone. The Law Office of Peter Berlin is here to help. We provide premier criminal defense representation for all clients. If you or a loved one have been charged with manslaughter of any kind, you will benefit from representation by a Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer from our law firm. Call our office today at (310) 289-5418.


The Law Office of Peter Berlin – Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney
16130 Ventura Boulevard, Suite 570, Los Angeles, CA 91436
(310) 289-5418