What is Manslaughter?

Aggressive Criminal Defense Lawyers Serving Los Angeles, CA

A type of criminal homicide, manslaughter may be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony under California Penal Code. Generally speaking, it is defined as killing another person without malice aforethought or premeditation. Manslaughter charges may stem from unintentional yet negligent acts or in situations where a person responds in the "heat of passion" to sufficient provocation. Depending on the classification of the charges and the circumstances surrounding the case, a defendant may face anywhere from 2 to 11 years in state prison if convicted of manslaughter.

Representing defendants throughout the greater Los Angeles area, we at Stephen G. Rodriguez & Partners are committed to helping those who have been arrested for and accused of manslaughter and other violent crimes. We understand how serious these matters are and respond with equally serious criminal defense counsel to protect our clients' constitutional rights to the fullest extent.

Here we will consider manslaughter charges under California law:

  • Voluntary Manslaughter: As defined under California Penal Code §192(a), voluntary manslaughter is the unlawful killing of another person without malice, "upon a sudden quarrel or heat of passion." For example, a man who came home to find his wife in bed with another man may face voluntary manslaughter charges if he is accused of killing both in a fit of sudden rage. The act was not premeditated and was committed without malice aforethought, making manslaughter charges a possibility. Penalties may include up to 3, 6 or 11 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
  • Involuntary Manslaughter: Under California Penal Code §192(b), involuntary manslaughter is defined as the unlawful killing of another person without malice, "in the commission of an unlawful act, not amounting to a felony; or in the commission of a lawful act which might produce death, in an unlawful manner, or without due caution or circumspection." Thus, killing another person during the commission of a misdemeanor crime (even if accidental) or killing another person in the performance of a lawful act that might produce death, a person may face involuntary manslaughter charges. The intent to kill is not required in these charges. A famous example of an involuntary manslaughter case involved the conviction of the doctor who prescribed a surgical anesthetic to pop star Michael Jackson, eventually leading to his death. Penalties may include up to 2, 3 or 4 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
  • Vehicular Manslaughter: This type of manslaughter is defined in California Penal Code §192(c). A person may face vehicular manslaughter charges for unlawfully killing another person without malice, while "driving a motor vehicle in the commission of an unlawful act, not amounting to a felony, and with gross negligence; or driving a vehicle in the commission of a lawful act which might produce death, in an unlawful manner, and with gross negligence." Vehicular manslaughter charges may also apply without gross negligence, and in cases involving intentionally causing an accident for the purposes of committing financial fraud (insurance fraud). An example may be a person who is texting while driving and runs a red light, striking and killing a pedestrian. Vehicular manslaughter may be charged as a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in county jail, or as a felony punishable by up to six years in state prison.

For more information regarding manslaughter charges and to discuss your rights if you have been formally or informally accused of such an offense, call a Los Angeles criminal defense attorney at Stephen G. Rodriguez & Partners. We are ready to offer straightforward, knowledgeable insight regarding your options and can fight aggressively to protect your rights in these serious matters.