Murder is homicide, or the unlawful killing of a human being, done with malice. Malice can range from intent to kill to total disregard of human life. All other types of murder fits into the category of second degree murder. In California, second degree murder is called manslaughter.

What is Manslaughter?

Manslaughter is the unlawful killing of a human being done without intent to kill or due to some mitigating circumstance. In essence, the defendant accused of manslaughter didn’t plan to kill the victim or able to control their actions that resulted in the death.

How Does California Define Manslaughter?

California defines manslaughter as the unlawful killing of another without the intent to murder. A manslaughter charge can occur in a variety of ways:

  • Heat of passion
  • During a commission of an unlawful act
  • Because of negligence
  • Unlawful or grossly negligent driving

What is Voluntary Manslaughter?

Voluntary manslaughter is the intentional killing a human being but with no prior malice. This is commonly referred to as the heat of passion manslaughter charge. For a charge of voluntary manslaughter, the defendant never planned to kill.

What is Involuntary Manslaughter?

Involuntary manslaughter is the unintentional killing of a person. The defendant didn’t mean to kill, but it happened. One example of this type of manslaughter charge is when a defendant punches the victim and the victim dies. In California, involuntary manslaughter requires two elements to charge someone: the homicide was done in an unlawful way and with criminal negligence

What is Vehicular Manslaughter?

Vehicular manslaughter is the unintentional homicide committed because of reckless driving. Reckless driving can range from driving under the influence to ignoring a traffic law. 

What is the Prison Sentence for Voluntary Manslaughter?

Voluntary manslaughter is a felony in California with a criminal sentence of three to 11 years in state prison. It can also be added as a strike to a person’s criminal record. 

What is the Prison Sentence for Involuntary Manslaughter? 

A person may receive two to four years in state prison. But the individual can be sentenced to formal probation and one year in county jail. 

Do I Need a Lawyer?

Yes, contact a California criminal lawyer about your case to find out more about your voluntary manslaughter charge and possible defenses.