Under Florida law, manslaughter involves the killing of a human being that does not fit within the definition of murder or felony-murder. Murder generally involves either a “depraved heart,” “reckless disregard for human life,” or felony-murder, which is a murder committed during the commission or attempted commission of an inherently dangerous felony. Manslaughter, however, is categorized into voluntary and involuntary manslaughter.
Under Florida law, manslaughter—including voluntary manslaughter—is a second-degree felony, and will not ordinarily be charged as a misdemeanor. As such, a conviction can subject you to many years of incarceration.
Manslaughter is one of the most serious charges you can sustain in Florida. If you have been charged with manslaughter, you should not be tempted to go it alone. You need experienced legal representation in your corner every step of the way. The criminal defense lawyers at Khonsari Law Group can examine the facts of your case and, if necessary, assist you with defending your manslaughter charge in court.
Elements of Voluntary Manslaughter
Voluntary manslaughter generally refers to a homicide—or killing—that occurs in the heat of passion or that is accompanied by some degree of provocation.
For a crime to qualify as voluntary manslaughter, the provocation must ordinarily be sudden and unexpected (such as instances of temporary anger or rage in response to some external stimulus—such as finding a spouse in the commission of an extramarital affair), causing the person to act intentionally. A prosecutor must also prove that the defendant’s act was the direct cause of the alleged victim’s death.
Elements of Involuntary Manslaughter
Involuntary manslaughter charges arise when a death results from extreme criminal negligence or willful, wanton, and careless conduct. Involuntary manslaughter charges may also stem from when a DUI accident results in someone’s death.
Defenses Against Manslaughter
A manslaughter defendant may raise one or both of the following defenses:
- Accidental killing
If successful, these defenses may serve as complete, affirmative defenses to manslaughter—and could result in dismissal of the case.
Possible Penalties Upon Conviction
A manslaughter conviction may result in:
- A prison term of as long as 15 years
- A fine of as much as $10,000
These penalties could increase in the case of aggravated manslaughter (for example, killing a child or elderly person) or manslaughter involving a weapon or firearm.
Contact a St. Petersburg, Florida, Criminal Defense Attorney Today to Discuss Your Case
Manslaughter charges are extremely serious. If you have been charged with manslaughter in Florida, our experienced team of criminal defense attorneys may assist you with formulating good legal defenses to your charges and safeguarding all of your legal rights while your criminal case is pending in the court system. To schedule a free consultation and case evaluation with a St. Petersburg, Florida criminal defense lawyer, please call us today at (727) 269-5300 or contact us online for a free initial consultation.