Murder is the first degree is homicide with premeditation, deliberation, and malice. Murder in the second degree is homicide done without premeditation and deliberation. But below that, Washington State also has degree of manslaughter under the category of murder.

What is Manslaughter?

Manslaughter is the unlawful killing of an individual done without premeditation, malice, deliberation. In essence, it was an unlawful killing done recklessly and/or with criminal negligence. It’s not considered murder because there are mitigating circumstances. Manslaughter includes voluntary and involuntary manslaughter.

What is Manslaughter in the First Degree in Washington State?

In Washington State, a defendant is guilty of this crime when they:

  • Recklessly cause the death of another person; or
  • Intentionally and unlawfully kills an unborn child by inflicting any injury upon the mother.

Is Manslaughter in the First Degree the Same as Voluntary Manslaughter Charge?

No. Voluntary manslaughter is the act of killing done with adequate provocation, like a “sudden fit of rage.” This passion causes someone to kill without intending or planning to do so. Another common phrase is “the heat of passion” provocation, and it is most often linked for situations when the defendant found their spouse in bed with another person.

Is this a Misdemeanor Offense?

No. It’s considered a felony. Washington State considers first degree manslaughter to be a class A felony.

What is the Difference of between Manslaughter in the First Degree and Manslaughter in the Second Degree?

Second degree manslaughter involves criminal negligence, which means that the defendant did not intend to kill another person. Instead the death was due to a lack of care. Whereas first degree manslaughter involves being reckless when causing someone’s death. Reckless behavior is when the defendant should have known that their behavior will very likely cause injury and/or death to another person.

Should I Discuss My Situation with a Lawyer?

It’s vital to talk to a Washington criminal lawyer about possible defenses to use for your first degree manslaughter charge.