Even if you have heard of the crime of manslaughter, you might have a number of questions as to what the term manslaughter refers to and what manslaughter charges include.
There are two types of manslaughter charges including voluntary manslaughter and involuntary manslaughter. Both types of manslaughter charges are considered less serious criminal charges than murder charges in Pennsylvania.
Voluntary manslaughter charges are sometimes referred to as a "heat of passion" crime. A heat of passion crime such as a voluntary manslaughter charge is one that requires provocation and the provocation must be a circumstance that a reasonable person would be provoked by. The accused individual may not be charged with voluntary manslaughter if the time in between the act of provocation and the alleged crime allowed the accused individual a period of time to cool down. The potential penalties for voluntary manslaughter, which is a first degree felony, include a prison sentence up to 20 years. Potential penalties can also increase for additional violent offenses or convictions.
Involuntary manslaughter charges refer to when the accused individual is alleged to have caused a death by engaging in reckless or grossly negligent conduct. In circumstances of involuntary manslaughter charges, the accused individual may be engaged in either lawful or unlawful activity that results in a death because of reckless or negligent conduct.
Both voluntary or involuntary manslaughter charges are serious and require a serious-minded defense and strong criminal defense strategy. Because of the high stakes and potential complexities associated with criminal charges related to a death, it is important for accused individuals to be familiar with their rights to a criminal defense and how to assert those rights.
Source: Statelaws.findlaw.com, "Pennsylvania Voluntary Manslaughter Laws," Accessed April 30, 2018