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What is considered manslaughter?

On Behalf of | Apr 6, 2021 | blog, Criminal Defense

When a person is alleged to have committed an act that led to another person’s death in Maryland, it is imperative to understand the different terms related to the charges. It will not necessarily be murder. In the unfortunate situation in which another person loses his or her life and it was either unintentional or there were mitigating circumstances in place at the time, there may be a charge of manslaughter. It is wise to understand the different categories of manslaughter as it can be critical to the defense.

The two types of manslaughter: voluntary and involuntary

People can be charged with voluntary or involuntary manslaughter. If a person dies and another individual is held responsible for it while not intentionally committing the act that led to the fatality, that will likely be involuntary manslaughter. A prime example is a person who went to a local bar and drove home under the influence of alcohol. If there was a subsequent auto accident resulting in a fatality, the impaired driver might be charged with involuntary manslaughter.

Voluntary manslaughter would be an incident in which the person who committed the act had harmful intent leading up to the other person’s death. If two people get into a fight at a sporting event and one ends up dying during the physical exchange, it may lead to a voluntary manslaughter charge. This is also referred to as “heat of the moment.” The person charged might not have intended to kill the other person but did, and it happened because of violence or anger.

Having professional help may be key in addressing manslaughter charges

The penalties for involuntary manslaughter are not as severe as they are for voluntary manslaughter, but a criminal law case may still lead to significant prison time and other consequences. Simply because a person is not charged with murder does not absolve them of responsibility for another’s death. Regardless of whether the charges are involuntary or voluntary manslaughter, it is essential for an accused person to understand their options to lodge a defense.