Nevada Voluntary Manslaughter Attorneys

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 What Is Manslaughter?

Manslaughter is the unlawful killing of an individual that is committed without planning or the intent to kill. Instead, the killing is committed with total disregard for human life or recklessness.

What Is the Difference between Manslaughter and Murder?

Manslaughter and murder are different criminal offenses. They differ based on the state of mind of the defendant at the time of the crime.

Murder typically requires:

  • Malice;
  • Premeditation; and
  • Planning.

Manslaughter is the unlawful killing of another human being without malice but with:

  • A conscious disregard for human life;
  • Recklessness; or
  • Criminal negligence.

Murder can be mitigated, or reduced, to manslaughter because of mitigating factors or circumstances that surround the crime.

What Are the Two Types of Manslaughter?

The two main categories of manslaughter are voluntary and involuntary. Voluntary manslaughter is a killing that would typically be defined as murder, but was committed in response to an adequate provocation.

If an adequate provocation resulted in a killing, the criminal charges may be reduced from murder to voluntary manslaughter. Adequate provocation is provocation that is considered to be sufficient to incite a normal individual to sudden and intense passion.

There are several examples of adequate provocation that are commonly accepted by courts, including:

  • Conducts or acts sufficient to deprive a reasonable person of self control;
  • The provocation actually provoked the defendant;
  • The time between the provocation and the actual killing cannot be long enough for a reasonable individual to have time to cool off; and
  • The defendant actually never cooled off.

Involuntary manslaughter is committed when an individual unintentionally kills another individual because of a lack of care. Involuntary manslaughter typically occurs on two occasions:

  • Where there is a death attributed to recklessness or criminal negligence; or
  • From an unlawful act that is a misdemeanor or a low-level felony.

What Else Should I Know about Voluntary Manslaughter?

Voluntary manslaughter is one type of charge a defendant can face under the category of homicide. Although this offense involves the killing of another human being, it is considered to be a less serious charge than murder.

As discussed above, murder requires intent, or malice aforethought, to kill or seriously harm another person. Voluntary manslaughter, on the other hand, generally arises in one of the following ways:

  • The killing is committed in a heat of passion moment or in a sudden fit of rage;
    • For example, if a defendant returns home to find their spouse in bed with someone else and acts on it immediately, resulting in the death of either the spouse or third party;
  • In a situation where the defendant executed an imperfect self-defense;
    • For example, when another individual is chasing after the defendant with a hot pink water gun and the defendant honestly believes they are going to be shot or injured by the weapon, so they fight back; or
  • During the commission of a felony, for example, kidnapping or grand larceny. Normally, the laws of the state will provide which crimes qualify.

Voluntary manslaughter may also be used to reduce the defendant’s murder charge. If this occurs, the defendant will face a lesser associated punishment.

This happens when a defendant who was initially charged with murder proves that the circumstances of the incident did not meet the required elements of a murder charge and, therefore, should be lowered to voluntary manslaughter.

Finally, it is important to keep in mind that, although voluntary manslaughter is viewed as a lesser offense in the eyes of the law, it is still considered to be a very serious crime.

What are the Legal Penalties for Voluntary Manslaughter?

Generally, the majority of states classify voluntary manslaughter as a first-degree felony. This means that the offense is very serious and may result in harsh legal consequences, including:

  • Stiff criminal fines, typically $20,000 or more;
  • Prison sentences that range anywhere from 3 to 11 years; and
  • Various other consequences, such as:
    • a period of probation;
    • mandatory counseling; or
    • specific types of rehabilitation courses.

Certain states only provide the maximum amount of prison time in their sentencing guidelines for voluntary manslaughter. In other states, a list is provided of specific sentences for voluntary manslaughter convictions.

For example, California lists increments of 3, 6, or 11 years, depending on the nature of the defendant’s conduct. In addition, the penalties may be altered based on aggravating or mitigating factors that were present at the time the crime was committed.

These are factors that make the crime either more or less appalling.

How Is Voluntary Manslaughter Defined in Nevada?

The State of Nevada defines voluntary manslaughter as the act of killing an individual due to an irresistible passion a person could not overcome. This irresistible passion is commonly referred to as a heat of passion.

Does Vehicular Manslaughter Fall into the Category of Voluntary Manslaughter?

No, in Nevada, vehicular manslaughter is a separate criminal charge from voluntary manslaughter. Vehicular manslaughter is defined as an unintentional act of killing an individual due to illegal driving.

Vehicular manslaughter is typically considered an unintentional act, or without malice, because of their actions engaged in while driving, including:

  • Gross negligence;
  • Extreme carelessness;
  • Drunk driving;
  • Speeding; or
  • Reckless driving.

Is Voluntary Manslaughter a Misdemeanor or Felony?

In Nevada, voluntary manslaughter is classified as a Category B felony.

What Is the Punishment for Voluntary Manslaughter in Nevada?

If a defendant is convicted of voluntary manslaughter in Nevada, they will face a criminal sentence consisting of:

  • One to 10 years in prison;
  • A $10,000 criminal fine; or
  • A combination of fines and prison time.

Are There Any Defenses to Voluntary Manslaughter?

One of the key issues in a voluntary manslaughter case is whether or not the defendant was provoked. The provocation defense may be presented to reduce a murder charge to voluntary manslaughter.

For example, if a defendant claims they committed the crime in a heat of passion, they will be required to show that they became so enraged that it provoked them to attack the victim.

Other factors that will be considered if the defendant asserts a provocation defense include:

  • Whether the killing happened within a certain time frame after the provocation occurred;
  • Whether a reasonable individual would normally have cooled off during that same amount of time;
  • Whether the defendant had actually cooled off already or not; and
  • Whether a reasonable person would have reacted in the same or in a similar manner as the defendant under the circumstances.

So, for example, if a reasonable individual would not have cooled off in the same amount of time and under the same or similar circumstances, then the provocation defense may be successful for the defendant during their criminal trial.

However, the amount of time that is considered to be sufficient for cooling off is not specific. The courts have never determined whether 10 minutes is enough or 5 minutes is enough.

Instead, the court will examine the evidence and decide on a case-by-case basis.

Do I Need an Attorney to Represent Me?

As with all felony criminal charges, it is in your best interests to have the assistance of an attorney. If you have been charged with voluntary manslaughter in Nevada, a Nevada criminal attorney can review your case, determine if the provocation defense is available to you, and represent you in court.

A felony conviction can affect many more areas of your life than your criminal record, including your employment and child custody. Because of this, it is essential to have professional representation to ensure your rights are protected.

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