Manslaughter vs. Criminally Negligent Homicide in California
Taking the life of another human being falls under the catchall phrase of “homicide.” However, there are different levels of homicide in California with different degrees of criminal culpability. Understanding these differences is important to understanding the nature of the charges against you.
If you were charged with manslaughter or criminally negligent homicide in California, hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney is likely in your best interest. The penalties and consequences of a conviction might last the rest of your life. Continue reading to learn more about these two types of charges in California.
What Is Manslaughter in California?
Manslaughter can take three forms in California:
- Voluntary manslaughter – Voluntary manslaughter is similar to murder in that it is the unlawful killing of another. However, there is no malice aforethought involved. The crime occurs during the heat of passion or a quarrel.
- Involuntary manslaughter – Involuntary manslaughter occurs when death is an indirect result of reckless or negligent conduct by the defendant.
- Vehicular manslaughter – Vehicular manslaughter occurs when a person’s unlawful driving actions lead to the death of another. No intent to kill is necessary.
A criminal defense lawyer can review the charges against you and explain them to you.
What Is Negligent Homicide in California?
While some states create a separate offense for negligent homicide, in California, criminally negligent conduct that causes death is charged as involuntary manslaughter. Therefore, to establish a case for negligent homicide in California, the prosecutor must prove the following legal elements:
- The defendant committed a crime or unlawful act – The defendant must have committed a crime that does not amount to a felony or a lawful act in an unlawful manner that might produce death without due caution.
- The defendant committed the crime or unlawful act with criminal negligence – The act could not have been a matter of simple negligence. Instead, negligence must rise to the level that the death or serious injury of another person was a possible result.
- The defendant’s acts caused the death of another person – The defendant’s criminally negligent behavior must have resulted in the victim’s death.
An experienced criminal defense lawyer can help determine possible defenses to these crimes and hold the prosecutor to their high burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Key Differences Between Voluntary and Involuntary Manslaughter
Some of the key differences between voluntary and involuntary manslaughter (the closest charge to criminally negligent homicide) in California include:
- The legal elements – For a voluntary manslaughter case, the prosecutor must prove that the defendant acted maliciously. For involuntary manslaughter or negligent homicide case, the defendant only needs to establish that the defendant’s actions rose to a sufficiently dangerous level that death could have occurred.
- The penalties – The penalties for voluntary manslaughter are more severe than those for involuntary manslaughter. Depending on the circumstances, voluntary manslaughter can result in imprisonment of up to 11 years, while involuntary manslaughter can result in as little as two years imprisonment.
- The social perception – Voluntary manslaughter is generally viewed by society as a violent act akin to murder. On the other hand, involuntary manslaughter is seen as more of an accidental killing.
Whether you are facing charges for voluntary or involuntary manslaughter, these charges are serious and can result in years behind bars. Having an experienced criminal defense lawyer on your side can provide you with greater peace of mind and ensure you understand the nature of the charges against you and the potential consequences.
Contact the Los Angeles Criminal Defense Law Firm of The Rodriguez Law Group Today For Help
The Rodriguez Law Group – Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney
626 Wilshire Blvd Suite 460, Los Angeles, CA 90017, United States