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According to California law, voluntary manslaughter laws apply when an individual:
Kills an individual during a sudden argument or quarrel.
Kills an individual in the heat of passion.
If an individual has been charged with voluntary manslaughter, then he or she should have a legal team of voluntary manslaughter experts. There are many factors that entail a voluntary manslaughter case, so having an experienced legal team is imperative for a strong defensive case. When an individual commits a homicide without malice, the defendant will more than likely be charged with manslaughter as opposed to murder. Malice is demonstrated with intentional planning in dangerous behavior. The primary difference between voluntary manslaughter and murder is the defendant’s mental state at the time the homicide was committed.
If there was an ample amount of time that has passed between the quarrel and the homicide, then California law gives the prosecutor grounds to seek-out a murder charge as opposed to a voluntary manslaughter. According to California law, if an individual had a substantial “cooling period,” then the prosecutor may be able to prove premeditation.
The laws in California consist of three variations of manslaughter, which include voluntary, involuntary, and vehicular. In the case of voluntary manslaughter, a prosecutor must prove without a doubt the defendant killed an individual during a sudden quarrel or in the heat of passion. In California, manslaughter can be a misdemeanor or a felony. However, a voluntary manslaughter charge is always a felony crime.
Penalties of Voluntary Manslaughter
If convicted of voluntary manslaughter, an individual could face a three to eleven year sentence in a state prison and additional penalties, which include:
A $10,000 fine.
Lose the right to possess a firearm.
The Three Strikes Offense is when a defendant will receive a strike for a voluntary manslaughter charge. Under California law, a strike offense constitutes more severe penalties for any convictions the defendant is charged with in the future.
Defense for Voluntary Manslaughter
Voluntary manslaughter is a serious offense. If an individual who is facing voluntary manslaughter charges works with an experienced legal team, then the defendant has the best chances of proving innocence in his or her case. There are several ways a good defensive team can fight a voluntary manslaughter charge, which include:
In order to claim self-defense in a voluntary manslaughter charge, the defendant must prove without a reasonable doubt the homicide was a result from force to prevent death or bodily harm. If an individual received a verbal threat, then it would not be considered self-defense to kill another individual.
Defense of others follows the same requirements as self-defense in a voluntary manslaughter charge.
Although intoxication does not excuse behavior that leads to crime, if the intoxication was involuntary, then it could constitute a voluntary manslaughter charge. For example, if an individual was given drugs against his or her will and kills an individual, it could lead to a voluntary manslaughter charge and would not be considered murder.
Individuals who are insane when the homicide is committed can not be held responsible for their actions. However, individuals must meet the legal definition for insanity. In these cases, individuals are not able to comprehend the severity of their actions and are not able to determine the difference between right and wrong.
If an individual is facing a voluntary manslaughter charge, then a legal firm that specializes in voluntary manslaughter can provide adequate defense. A voluntary manslaughter charge will have a negative impact on an individual’s record, which is why it is vital to hire a legal team with knowledge and experience.