If convicted of voluntary manslaughter in Virginia, you could face up to 10 years in prison. If charged, you need to consider the defenses available to you.

What does voluntary manslaughter mean?

If you kill someone, the law has to decide why and how you killed them. A court is likely to consider it murder if you were intending to cause serious harm or death and had thought about it before carrying out the actions.

Manslaughter is when you did not mean to kill someone, and your actions were not premeditated. Nonetheless, as a result of your recklessness or negligence, they died.

There are two types of manslaughter: involuntary and voluntary:

  • Involuntary manslaughter: You had no intention of harming them. For instance, you were drunk driving or speeding and killed a pedestrian. Or someone was killed in a workplace accident because you had not carried out the safety checks.
  • Voluntary manslaughter: You meant to harm them but did not intend to kill them, and it was not premeditated. For instance, things got out of hand in a fight or when acting in self-defense.

In each case, it will be up to the court to decide how they classify the death. A criminal defense attorney may try to reduce the charges of voluntary manslaughter to involuntary manslaughter or to have the charges dismissed.

These are some of the defenses commonly used when facing voluntary manslaughter charges:

  • You did not do it: You may be able to challenge the witnesses’ accuracy or prove that you were not there.
  • You acted in self-defense: You had to kill them, or they would have killed you.
  • You were insane at the time: You did not understand what you were doing or could not tell it was wrong.
  • It was an accident: If there was no intention, you could get the charges reduced to involuntary manslaughter.

Defending yourself against charges of killing someone in Virginia requires the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney. Your future is at stake.