Under Florida law, the primary difference between voluntary and involuntary manslaughter largely revolves around the element of intent. Although both types of manslaughter are viewed as one under the Florida criminal statutes, whether the crime is viewed as voluntary or involuntary manslaughter can make a serious difference when it comes to a judge’s sentencing decision.
If you have been charged with manslaughter in Florida, you need experienced legal representation on your side throughout your criminal case. The knowledgeable St. Petersburg criminal defense lawyers at Khonsari Law Group can represent you at criminal hearings—including sentencing hearings—and may be able to help you obtain a reduced sentence upon conviction.
Manslaughter in General
Florida defines manslaughter as the killing of another person:
- By the procurement, act, or culpable negligence of someone else and
- Without legal justification
- Culpable negligence refers to disregard for human life while the defendant is engaging in behavior that is deemed reckless or wanton.
- Voluntary Manslaughter
Voluntary manslaughter is sometimes known as manslaughter occurring during the “heat of passion.” A sentencing judge or court may consider a particular manslaughter “voluntary” if the homicide was intentional but occurred in the midst of provocation. Manslaughter which occurs following a bar fight, crime of passion, or domestic dispute may be deemed voluntary manslaughter. The potential penalties for a voluntary manslaughter conviction are much less than those associated with a murder conviction.
In order for a sentencing judge or court to consider a homicide an act of involuntary manslaughter, the criminal defendant must not intend to kill. Rather the killing must be accidental or inadvertent and must result from a negligent, dangerous, or careless behavior. Accidentally firing a gun and killing someone may amount to involuntary manslaughter under the law.
Manslaughter Penalties in Florida
Both voluntary and involuntary manslaughter are second-degree felonies in the State of Florida. As such, the potential penalties upon conviction may include the following:
- A maximum of $10,000 in monetary fines
- A maximum of 15 years in jail
- A maximum of 15 years of criminal probation
- Manslaughter Defenses
Several potential legal defenses can help against manslaughter charges. The number and extent of available defenses depend largely on the facts and circumstances surrounding the crime. Common manslaughter defenses include:
- That the homicide was justifiable
- That the homicide resulted from self-defense
- That the death was completely accidental and did not result from any negligence or gross negligence
- Mistaken identity
- Defendant alibi (that is, the accused was somewhere else when the homicide occurred)
Call a St. Petersburg, Florida, Criminal Defense Lawyer Today to Discuss Your Case
Voluntary and involuntary manslaughter charges and convictions can never be taken lightly. If you have been charged with manslaughter in the State of Florida, you should reach out to the criminal defense lawyers at Khonsari Law Group for legal help.
To speak with one of our St. Petersburg, Florida, criminal defense lawyers, please call us at (727) 269-5300, or contact us online.