When you are responsible for causing the death of another person you can face serious criminal consequences for your actions. In most cases, the state will pursue criminal charges for murder. However, if you can prove that the death was the result of criminal negligence or provocation, rather than premeditation, you may be able to secure criminal charges for manslaughter. While both crimes are extremely serious, the criminal penalties for manslaughter are less severe than those for murder.
If you are facing criminal charges for causing the death of another person then contact Los Angeles criminal defense attorney Ambrosio Rodriguez for help. As a former prosecutor, Mr. Rodriguez knows the challenges the state will face when trying a homicide case. Using this insight, he will find the weaknesses in the state’s case against you and leverage them into reducing or dismissing the charges against you.
For nearly two decades, The Rodriguez Law Group has been fighting to protect the rights and futures of clients just like you. We know that your future is on the line and will do everything in our power to get the best possible outcome in your criminal case. Call us today for a free consultation.
Manslaughter vs. Murder
Homicide and manslaughter are both crimes that can be charged if you are responsible for causing the death of another person.
The main difference between these two crimes is the element of planning. Murder is the unlawful killing of another person with malice aforethought.
Manslaughter, on the other hand, is the unlawful killing of another person without malice aforethought. Malice aforethought, which is sometimes referred to as premeditation, means that you acted with the intent to kill.
Manslaughter – Penal Code § 192 PC
Manslaughter, as defined in California Penal Code Section 192 PC, is defined to mean the unlawful killing of another person without malice. There are actually three different types of manslaughter in California: voluntary manslaughter, involuntary manslaughter, and vehicular manslaughter. Each type of manslaughter covers a different type of criminal behavior.
Voluntary manslaughter, defined in 192(a) PC, is the crime of killing another person in a sudden heat of passion or quarrel. In this case, you become so overwhelmed with emotion that you are driven to kill another person. The classic example of voluntary manslaughter is finding another person in bed with your spouse and killing them.
One important thing to know about voluntary manslaughter is that there can be no cooling off period between the provocation and your actions. Voluntary manslaughter requires that you act in the heat of the moment: you are provoked, overwhelmed by emotion, and react immediately. If there is a significant lapse of time between the provocation and your action you will face charges for murder, and not voluntary manslaughter.
Penalties: Voluntary manslaughter is a felony offense in Los Angeles. If you are convicted of voluntary manslaughter your criminal sentence can include:
- 3, 6, or 11 years in a California state prison;
- $10,000 in fines; and/or
- Formal probation.
Involuntary manslaughter, defined in Penal Code 192(b) PC, occurs when your negligent or reckless conduct causes the unlawful death of another person. Here, the person’s death can be accidental and intended. However, you can be criminally liable because your conduct is criminally negligent. Your conduct will be considered to be criminally negligent if:
- You acted in a reckless way that created a high risk of death or injury; and
- A reasonable person would have known that acting in this way would create this risk.
Many times, you can face charges for involuntary manslaughter when you break the law and subsequently cause the death of another person.
For example, as a parent you have a legal duty to provide a certain level of care for your children. One extremely hot summer day you decide to run to the store with your newborn child. However, rather than taking your child into the store with you, you decide that you will them alone in the car. The excessive heat in the car results in the death of your child. You could face involuntary manslaughter charges because your behavior would be considered criminally negligent. A reasonable person would have known that leaving an infant alone in a hot car in the peak of the summer heat would create a high risk of death or great bodily harm.
Penalties: Involuntary manslaughter is a felony offense in Los Angeles. If you are convicted of involuntary manslaughter your criminal sentence can include:
- 2, 3, or 4 years in a California state prison;
- $10,000 in fines; and/or
- Formal probation.
You can face criminal charges for vehicular manslaughter, as defined in Penal Code 192(c) PC, when you negligently operate a motor vehicle and unintentionally cause another person’s death. For example, you could be charged with vehicular manslaughter if you cause the death of another person because you were:
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol;
- Speeding at an excessive rate;
- Driving a vehicle that you knew was unsafe; or
- Intentionally crashing your car for financial gain.
Penalties: Vehicular manslaughter can be a misdemeanor or a felony in Los Angeles. The deciding factor is generally whether you acted with gross negligence or ordinary negligence. Misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter carries a maximum penalty of one year in a Los Angeles County jail, $1,000 in fines, and summary probation. Felony vehicular manslaughter carries a maximum penalty of 6 years in a California state prison, $10,000 in fines, and formal probation.
Consequences of Manslaughter
In addition to jail time, fines, and probation you can also face additional penalties if you are convicted of manslaughter. Some of these penalties can be imposed at the discretion of the court, while others will exist simply because you now have a criminal record. Additional consequences of a manslaughter conviction include:
- Suspension or revocation of your California driver’s license;
- Loss of child custody and/or visitation rights;
- Loss of the right to own or possess a gun;
- Inability to secure employment in certain fields, including education, government, and healthcare;
- Inability to participate in government welfare programs;
- Suspension or loss of professional licenses; and
- Restraining orders.
In addition to these consequences, you will be forced to live with the burden of a criminal record. Employers, landlords, and potential lenders who run a routine background check will see that you have been convicted of a serious crime. This may cause them to deny your application, making it incredibly difficult to find a job or secure housing for your family.
Defenses to Manslaughter
If you are facing criminal manslaughter or murder charges in Los Angeles you have the right to defend yourself. This means that you will have the opportunity to assert any legal defense that will help to excuse, explain, and/or justify your alleged behavior. Successfully arguing a legal defense will make the prosecutions’ job much more difficult. When they are unable to build a solid case they will be more inclined to negotiate the charges against you. Defenses that may be helpful in your Los Angeles manslaughter case include:
- Conduct was not negligent or reckless;
- Force or duress;
- False accusation; or
- Violation of Constitutional rights.
Fighting Manslaughter Charges in Los Angeles
Are you facing criminal charges for murder or manslaughter in Los Angeles? Contact The Rodriguez Law Group today for immediate legal assistance. We can help to minimize the consequences of your arrest and get the best possible outcome in your criminal case.
Call our Los Angeles office today to set up a free consultation with one of our Los Angeles manslaughter attorneys. We will review your case, determine the best line of defense, and make sure that your Constitutional rights have not been violated. We understand that your future is at stake and will do everything in our power to get the charges in your case reduced or dismissed. The prosecution will begin to build its case against you immediately, so do not hesitate to call us today.