A charge of manslaughter, either voluntary and involuntary, carries grave repercussions that can negatively impact every aspect of your life. If you have been questioned by the police or arrested – or if you know someone who has – it is crucial that you immediately retain an experienced Pittsburgh criminal attorney who has successfully defended people accused of manslaughter.
Voluntary Manslaughter Charges in PA
Voluntary manslaughter occurs when a person kills another individual without lawful justification. In this crime, there has to be serious provocation by:
- the individual killed, or
- someone else they endeavored to kill, although instead they negligently or accidentally caused another person’s death
A key part of voluntary manslaughter is that at the time of the killing the perpetrator acted under a sudden and intense passion. In other words, they acted without rational thought, under the influence of strong emotions.
Someone commits voluntary manslaughter if they intentionally or knowingly kill. The Commonwealth must also prove that at the time of the killing, although the person’s belief is unreasonable, the individual charged believed the circumstances would justify the killing.
Penalties & Jail Time for Voluntary Manslaughter Charges
Voluntary manslaughter is a felony of the first degree punishable by up to 20 years in prison.
Involuntary manslaughter means causing the death of another person as a direct result of acting in a reckless or grossly negligent manner. The person charged could have been doing either a lawful or unlawful act when their behavior caused the death.
Penalties and Jail Time for Involuntary Manslaughter Charges
Involuntary manslaughter is a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable by up to five years in prison.
If the victim is under 12 and in the care, custody, or control of the person who caused his or her death, involuntary manslaughter is a felony of the second degree. You can be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison.
How to Defend Against Manslaughter Charges in PA
Depending on the circumstances of your case, there are several ways your Pittsburgh violent crimes attorney can defend you. Pennsylvania’s castle doctrine may be an option if you were acting in self-defense. Many times, manslaughter and other criminal charges are defended by carefully analyzing and fighting the evidence against you. If the police pressured you into a confession or if evidence was seized without a warrant, this may be suppressed.