The unlawful killing of another person can take a number of different forms under Pennsylvania law. A killing committed with malicious intent, for example, is treated as murder. Assisting a suicide is covered by a special statute, as is vehicular homicide and the unlawful delivery of a fatal controlled substance. Manslaughter laws cover most other illegal killings.
If you are facing manslaughter charges in the Pennsylvania area, call Brian Manchester, an experienced manslaughter defense attorney in Pennsylvania. Call today. It is important to start working on your defense right away.
Homicide by Manslaughter in Pennsylvania
Under Pennsylvania law, it is considered criminal homicide to intentionally, knowingly, recklessly or negligently cause the death of another person. With a few exceptions, these crimes are divided into two types: murder and manslaughter. The key difference is intent. To win a conviction in any criminal case, prosecutors must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a defendant committed the crime with culpability, also known as a guilty state of mind. With murder, this means the prosecutors must prove a defendant killed another person with malicious intent. With manslaughter, the culpability requirement is less. So are the punishments.
Manslaughter: Greater and Lesser in Pennsylvania
Manslaughter is essentially any type of unlawful killing committed without the culpability required of murder. There are a few limited exceptions, including coerced and assisted suicides, vehicular homicide, and intentionally delivering fatal drugs in an unlawful manner. They carry penalties that range from at least three years in prison (DUI-related vehicular homicide) to as many as 40 years (delivery of a controlled substance). In a sense, these can be considered special forms of manslaughter. Manslaughter itself comes in two kinds. The facts of each situation determine which kind of statute applies and which penalties.
Type One: Voluntary Manslaughter in Pennsylvania
Voluntary manslaughter is essentially an intentional or knowing killing without malicious intent under certain facts where the law considers the killing somewhat understandable but not justified. It is voluntary manslaughter for a defendant to intentionally kill a person while under the heat of passion resulting from serious provocation (behavior that would provoke any reasonable person, not just the defendant), or to accidentally kill another person while trying to kill the provoker. This does not apply, and the killing would be considered murder, if the defendant had time to cool off between the provocation and the homicide. It is also voluntary manslaughter for a defendant to intentionally or knowingly kill another person while unreasonably and mistakenly believing he is acting self defense. Penalties for voluntary manslaughter include as many as 20 years in prison and $25,000 in fines for a first offense.
Type Two: Involuntary Manslaughter in Pennsylvania
As its name implies, involuntary manslaughter is the lesser of the two types of manslaughter. The culpability required of an involuntary manslaughter charge is much lower than those for murder and voluntary manslaughter, as are the penalties. Involuntary manslaughter is a legal punishment for reckless and grossly negligent killings. It is involuntary manslaughter in Pennsylvania to cause the death of another person while engaged in any act, lawful or unlawful, in a reckless or grossly negligent manner. In most cases involuntary manslaughter is a misdemeanor punishable by as many as five years in prison and $10,000 in fines for a first offense. But where the victim was younger than 12 and was under the care, custody or control of the person who caused the death, the punishment can include as many as 10 years in prison and $25,000 in fines for a first offense.
If you or a loved one are in the Pennsylvania area and have been charged with manslaughter, call Brian Manchester, an experienced manslaughter defense lawyer in Pennsylvania. He can help you build the defense you need today.