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,” while felony murder is a murder committed during the commission or attempted commission of a felony. Manslaughter, however, is categorized into voluntary and involuntary manslaughter.
Elements of Voluntary Manslaughter
Voluntary manslaughter generally refers to a homicide – or killing – that occurs in the “heat of passion” or is accompanied by some degree of provocation.
In order 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), causing the person to act intentionally. A prosecutor must also prove that the defendant’s act was the direct and proximate cause of the alleged victim’s death.
Defenses to Voluntary Manslaughter
A defendant who has been charged with voluntary manslaughter may be able to raise one or both of the following defenses:
- It is important to note that if successful, these defenses may serve as complete, affirmative defenses to a voluntary manslaughter charge.
- Possible Penalties Upon Conviction
- Under Florida law, manslaughter – including voluntary manslaughter – is a second-degree felony. A criminal defendant who has been convicted of voluntary manslaughter may incur some or all of the following penalties:
- A term of imprisonment of up to 15 years
A fine of up to $10,000.00
The penalties are subject to change if the voluntary manslaughter defense involves a case of aggravated manslaughter (e.g., killing a child or elderly person) or 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 the state of Florida, our experienced team of criminal defense attorneys can help you formulate legal defenses to your charge(s) and safeguard all your legal rights.
To schedule a free consultation and case evaluation with a lawyer, please call us at 727-269-5300 or contact us online.