Georgia Involuntary Manslaughter Law

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 How Is Voluntary Manslaughter Defined in Georgia?

Voluntary manslaughter is the killing of another human committed because the perpetrator inflicts injury on another person in response to a sudden, violent, irresistible provocation. This means a person is provoked into homicide, the killing of another person, but does not have the malice aforethought or premeditated intent to kill required for conviction of murder.

Georgia law also recognizes the crimes of both voluntary and involuntary manslaughter. Involuntary manslaughter is a homicide committed without intent to kill during the commission of another non-felony crime, such as a first offense of driving under the influence of alcohol or misdemeanor theft, while the perpetrator is acting in a manner that can be characterized as criminally negligent.

In Georgia, a person commits the offense of voluntary manslaughter when they cause the death of another human being under circumstances that would otherwise be murder and if they act solely as the result of a sudden, violent, and irresistible passion resulting from serious provocation. The provocation must be of the type that would be sufficient to excite such passion in any reasonable person.

However, if there should have been an interval between the provocation and the killing sufficient for the voice of reason and humanity to be heard, the killing must be attributed to deliberate revenge and punished as murder.

Again, the difference between voluntary manslaughter and murder in Georgia is the existence of the “cooling off” period. If the perpetrator had an opportunity to regain their composure between the provocation and the perpetration of the homicide, then the perpetrator cannot be charged with voluntary manslaughter. Rather, they must be charged with murder.

So, for example, if a person is informed by telephone of something that would constitute a provocation that justifies manslaughter but has to drive for a period of time to another place to confront the person who provoked them, they might end up charged with murder. They had the requisite time to recover from the provocation before they caused the homicide in question.

What Is Involuntary Manslaughter in Georgia?

As noted above, involuntary manslaughter is unintentional homicide committed without the intent to kill during the commission of another non-felony criminal offense while the perpetrator is acting in a manner that is criminally negligent.

Or a person can be guilty of involuntary manslaughter in Georgia if they commit a lawful act in a manner that is unlawful when they unintentionally cause the death of another person during the commission of a lawful act in an unlawful manner and in a manner that is likely to cause death or great bodily harm.

Are All Homicides Punished in the Same Way in Georgia?

There are significant differences in the crimes that involve homicide in Georgia. The statutes in the Georgia Penal Code are carefully written to distinguish the crimes that involve homicide from one another. This is true in all other states as well.

The main difference is that murder involves the premeditated intent to kill. For this reason, murder is the most serious of criminal offenses. In Georgia, it has the most severe punishment for offenses that involve homicide, i.e., life in prison or the death penalty.

As can be seen from the information above, the crimes of murder, voluntary manslaughter, and involuntary manslaughter are different, and the punishments for the crimes are quite different.

What Is the Penalty in Georgia for Involuntary Manslaughter?

A person who is convicted of involuntary manslaughter for killing another during the commission of a non-felony criminal offense can be sentenced to not less than 1 year and not more than 10 years in prison. This means that the person must serve a minimum of 1 year in prison. They cannot be sentenced to a term of imprisonment of more than 10 years.

If a person is convicted of involuntary manslaughter for killing another person during the commission of a lawful act in an unlawful way, they have been convicted of a misdemeanor offense only. There are 3 possible involuntary manslaughter sentences in Georgia as follows:

  • Payment of a fine of not more than $1,000.00 or by a term of incarceration in a county jail of not more than 1 year, or both;
  • Confinement for a period of months, but not more than 112 months under the jurisdiction of the Board of Corrections in a state probation detention center;
  • If the crime was committed by an inmate inside a state correctional facility, by confinement in a state correctional facility under the jurisdiction of the Board of Corrections for a maximum period of 12 months.

Can I Get My Voluntary Manslaughter Charge Reduced to Involuntary Manslaughter?

Of course, it would be advantageous for a person charged with voluntary manslaughter to have their charge reduced to involuntary manslaughter, which is a far less serious offense. The punishment for involuntary manslaughter is less severe than the punishment for voluntary manslaughter.

Anything is possible. A criminal defense lawyer who represents a person charged with voluntary manslaughter could certainly negotiate a plea bargain with the prosecution in an effort to get their charge reduced to involuntary manslaughter. Whether the lawyer is going to have success in this effort would depend on the particular facts of the case.

Are There Any Defenses to Involuntary Manslaughter in Georgia?

There are several potential defenses to a charge of involuntary manslaughter in Georgia. Of course, as in all criminal cases, the prosecution has the burden of proving every element of the offense at trial.

The prosecution must prove every element beyond a reasonable doubt that the perpetrator of an involuntary manslaughter acted with negligence, recklessness, or in the course of illegal conduct.

  • Use of Force in Defense of Self or Others: A person is justified in threatening to use or using force against another person when they reasonably believe that it is necessary to protect their own life or the life of another person because the other person threatens them with the imminent use of unlawful force.
    • However, a person is justified in using a degree of force that is intended to or likely to cause death or great bodily injury only if they reasonably believe that this degree of force is necessary to prevent death or great bodily injury to themselves or the third party.
    • Or the use of a force intended to or likely to cause death or great bodily injury is justified to prevent the perpetration of a forcible felony, e.g., rape;
  • The Alibi Defense: One defense is the alibi defense. The perpetrator can claim they have been wrongly identified as the perpetrator because they were somewhere else entirely at the time of the offense;
  • Accidental Death: The perpetrator can claim that the death was completely accidental and that they did not act negligently, or with criminal recklessness;
  • Insufficient Evidence: Of course, the alleged perpetrator of an involuntary manslaughter can always argue that the prosecution’s evidence fails to establish the connection between the actions of the perpetrator and the death of the victim.

Do I Need the Help of a Lawyer With My Involuntary Manslaughter Charge?

If you have been charged with involuntary manslaughter or any other offense that involves a homicide, you most certainly need to consult a Georgia criminal defense lawyer. can quickly connect you to a lawyer who has the services you need.

Your lawyer can review the facts of your case, identify any defenses you may have, and the weaknesses in the prosecution’s case against you. Your lawyer will protect your rights, negotiate with the prosecution, and represent you at trial if that becomes necessary.

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