Ventura Manslaughter Defense Attorney
Manslaughter is an incredibly serious accusation. Manslaughter is one of the potential “homicide” offenses in California, alongside murder as one of the most serious charges you can face. If convicted, penalties for this offense may result in up to 11 years in prison. If you have been accused of manslaughter, the Ventura manslaughter defense lawyers at the Law Offices of Bamieh & De Smeth may be able to help you.
With decades worth of combined legal experience, we can assist you in building a strong defense aimed at reducing your sentence and sometimes resulting in acquittal. To schedule a free legal consultation with our defense attorneys, contact our law offices today at (805) 585-5056. Our legal consultations are free and carry no obligations. Call us today to start receiving help on your manslaughter charges.
Different Types of Manslaughter Charges in California
In California, manslaughter charges are broken up into three categories: voluntary manslaughter, involuntary manslaughter, and vehicular manslaughter. Each of these is a serious offense that is charged because someone else died from your alleged actions, but the level of fault and culpability is different for each type of charge.
Manslaughter is generally defined under CA Penal Code § 192 as “the unlawful killing of a human being without malice.” This is in contrast with the definition of murder in California, which is “the unlawful killing of a human being … with malice aforethought.” This lack of malice makes manslaughter a less severe crime than murder, but each type of manslaughter is still a serious offense.
Voluntary manslaughter is the most serious manslaughter offense. This type of manslaughter occurs when the actor kills someone “upon a sudden quarrel or heat of passion.” That means that if you kill someone during a fight or because you were mad or provoked, you could be charged with voluntary manslaughter.
The law sees this heat of passion or quarrel as an excuse for the killing that reduces your culpability. If you intentionally kill someone, it is murder, but serious anger or a fight can cloud your judgment and reduce your fault in the death. For this reason, voluntary manslaughter is often used to “plea down” murder charges to a lesser offense if the actor was provoked into killing the victim.
Involuntary manslaughter occurs when you cause someone’s death while doing something illegal or that you knew was dangerous and could cause death. If you were in the process of committing a crime that was not a serious felony, and someone died, you are held responsible for their death with involuntary manslaughter charges. Additionally, if you ignore the dangers and consequences of a course of action and ultimately end up killing someone, you are similarly responsible for the death under this statute.
Vehicular manslaughter is similar to involuntary manslaughter, but it covers death involving the use of an automobile. This means that if you were committing a violation and killed someone in the accident or you did something extremely dangerous that caused someone’s death, you can be charged with vehicular manslaughter. This can also cover deaths involving the operation of a boat or other vessel.
There is an additional crime under Penal Code § 191.5 for gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated. This covers manslaughter that occurs in conjunction with a drunk driving offense, and it has higher penalties than typical vehicular manslaughter.
Penalties for Manslaughter in California
As mentioned, manslaughter has a maximum penalty of 11 years in prison. This is far lower than the potential penalties for murder, which can include the death penalty or life in prison without parole. Still, the penalties for manslaughter when it is charged as the primary offense can still be quite serious.
- Voluntary manslaughter can carry 3, 6, or 11 years in state prison.
- Involuntary manslaughter can be punished by 2, 3, or 4 years of incarceration, but you may be able to get probation instead.
- Vehicular manslaughter can carry up to a year in county jail; 2, 4, or 6 years in county jail; or 4, 6, or 10 years in state prison, depending on how the crime was committed.
Manslaughter’s “Provocation Defense”
Manslaughter may be charged as the initial crime in your case, but you may also be able to use the definition of manslaughter as a defense to murder charges. If you were initially charged with murder in California, your attorney can argue that the killing occurred in a heat of passion and, instead, you should be convicted of manslaughter. This can potentially save you from long terms of imprisonment or even the death penalty.
In these cases, you argue that there was “provocation” or some heat of passion that reduced your ability to think and plan to intentionally kill someone. One defense that is not available in California is the “gay panic” or “trans panic” defense, where you argue that someone revealing their sexuality or gender identity to you provoked you into killing them. However, provocation can include situations such as discovering your significant other cheating on you, someone harming or abusing you or a loved one, or other things that would lead a reasonable person to violence.
Call Our Ventura, CA Manslaughter Defense Attorneys for a Free Legal Consultation
If you were charged with manslaughter in California, you should speak with an attorney before moving forward with your case. Our Ventura, CA manslaughter defense attorneys can help protect your rights and fight the government’s case against you, potentially reducing charges and helping you avoid severe penalties. For help with your case, contact our law offices today to schedule a free legal consultation. Our number is (805) 585-5056.