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When can Maryland prosecute people for manslaughter?

On Behalf of | Sep 25, 2023 | Criminal Defense

Certain criminal charges are far more serious than others. They risk harsher penalties and trigger more significant social stigma during the background check process. Many of the most serious criminal charges relate to violent crimes or actions that cause serious harm to another person.

Manslaughter is obviously less serious than homicide, but it is still a very significant blemish to have turn up during a background check. An individual accused of manslaughter in Maryland could face major penalties, the severity of which will depend on whether the state alleges that the manslaughter was voluntary or involuntary.

When is it theoretically possible for Maryland state prosecutors to file manslaughter charges against an individual?

When someone seems to be to blame for a death

Manslaughter charges typically result when the state wants to hold a specific person responsible for someone else’s untimely passing. There isn’t an obligation to prove any criminal intent as there would be with a homicide charge. Instead, the courts need to establish that someone caused another person’s death through negligence, recklessness or a minor criminal act. For example, someone accused of getting behind the wheel after drinking and then causing a deadly crash would potentially face involuntary manslaughter charges. Their actions directly caused the death of another person, but injuring that person was not their intention.

A scenario in which a physical altercation spiraled out of control, on the other hand, might lead to claims of voluntary manslaughter based on the allegation that someone initiated physical contact with the intention of seriously harming the other party. Those accused of voluntary manslaughter are more likely to face the maximum penalties, which might include up to a decade in state custody. For Maryland manslaughter charges to apply, prosecutors typically need evidence directly connecting someone to another person’s untimely passing and evidence that they either intended to cause harm or behaved in such a negligent manner that they caused someone else’s death.

The penalties the state could imposes depend on the nature of the situation and the criminal record of the party accused. Learning about Maryland’s manslaughter laws can benefit those who face allegations of harm connected to a recent fatal incident. In scenarios like these, seeking legal guidance isn’t optional for anyone who hopes to benefit from a favorable outcome.