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The difference between voluntary and involuntary manslaughter

On Behalf of | Apr 7, 2021 | Criminal Defense

Things happen, and a disagreement or situation can spiral out of control. Emotions may run so high that violence occurs. Tragic circumstances may ensue, and someone may end up dead. Even though you didn’t intend for their death, the next thing you know you’re facing charges of either voluntary or involuntary manslaughter.

Understanding your charges is a key part of your defense process, so learn everything that you can about them.

How voluntary and involuntary manslaughter differ

Each jurisdiction has its subtle way of distinguishing between involuntary and voluntary manslaughter

Involuntary manslaughter may constitute criminally negligent homicide in some jurisdictions. Accidental deaths resulting from someone’s negligence, such as driving under the influence and killing a pedestrian, may fall under the umbrella of this type of crime. It’s generally less severe of a charge than voluntary manslaughter. 

Voluntary manslaughter is a “heat-of-the-moment” type of homicide. For example, someone might have gotten into an argument with another person and, in the process, picked something up and hit them, resulting in their death. This is distinguished from murder in numerous ways, which generally requires some form of premeditation — although unintentional deaths that occur during the commission of another crime may also be considered murder. 

Penalties associated with manslaughter in Virginia

A Virginia judge can sentence anyone convicted of voluntary or involuntary manslaughter to up to ten years in state prison. 

Life can sometimes change in an instant, but circumstances aren’t always as they seem on the surface. If you’re facing manslaughter charges, don’t try to handle the situation on your own — and don’t discuss the details of the situation with the police. Invoke your right to remain silent, and contact an experienced defense attorney right away.