Voluntary Manslaughter in Pennsylvania
Facing Voluntary Manslaughter Charges in Pennsylvania
Learn about what voluntary manslaughter is in Pennsylvania and what to do if you or a loved one is facing accusations or criminal homicide charges. Facing voluntary manslaughter is a pivotable moment in a person’s life. Is it the time to reach out to an inexperienced criminal attorney or a former prosecutor who touts his convictions but lacks experience gaining murder acquittals? Before it’s too late, call our team. Facing involuntary manslaughter charges anywhere in Pennsylvania and need help, call the Ciccarelli Legal Team at (610) 692-8700.
Getting the Best Defense where you are facing Voluntary Manslaughter Charges
Reach out to the Ciccarelli Legal Team, when you are facing a voluntary manslaughter allegation in the greater Philadelphia metro area, including Chester County, Bucks County, Delaware County, Lancaster County, Montgomery County and throughout Pennsylvania. Then ask yourself, why you are not calling now and scheduling a time to meet with us. Call now at (610) 692-8700.
Our team of lawyers at Ciccarelli Law Offices is ready to fight for you. When the threat of prosecution for homicide and murder is real, you need to look for the best options and find a top murder defense team serving Chester County and beyond. Based in West Chester (Chester County) in the Philadelphia Metro Area, the Ciccarelli Legal Team defends the rights of murder and homicide defendants throughout Pennsylvania.
If you have been charged with voluntary manslaughter in the state of Pennsylvania, you are facing very serious charges. Voluntary manslaughter is typically defined as an intentional killing, yet one in which the defendant had no specific intent to kill another human being. An example of voluntary manslaughter would be the taking of a life during the heat of passion—a situation which would lead a reasonable human being to become emotionally or mentally disturbed. If this is not the case, then the offense would be charged as a first, second, or perhaps third-degree murder.
While both voluntary and involuntary manslaughter charges lack the element of intent, involuntary manslaughter occurs as a consequence of reckless behavior or grossly negligent behavior, while voluntary manslaughter typically occurs when a specific situation sparks a “heat of the moment” killing. Voluntary manslaughter is the unlawful killing of a human being during a quarrel or heat of passion, lacking malice aforethought or premeditation. Involuntary manslaughter is usually the result of a death caused by a person who is driving while impaired or driving in a particularly reckless manner. In other words, a person committing involuntary manslaughter did not intend to kill another person, yet through his or her reckless actions, a death occurred.
What is “Heat of Passion”?
The meaning of “heat of passion” can vary, depending on the situation, however it generally refers to provocation to the point of extreme anger or rage which causes a person to lose the normal capacity for self-control. In other words, circumstances which would cause another reasonable person who was facing the same level of provocation to react in a similar manner. To qualify for “heat of passion,” there must not have been any “cooling off” opportunity—a time during which a person would have time between the provocation and the killing to regain some measure of self-control. Most people think of a husband or wife finding his or her spouse in bed with another person when they think of a heat of passion crime. While this is certainly an instance of heat of passion, that husband or wife cannot have left the house, taken a long walk to cool off, then returned to the house to kill either their spouse or the other person.
When adequate provocation exists, a murder charge may be reduced to manslaughter—in other words, when the act of taking another human life was essentially the product of natural human weakness. The level of provocation necessary to qualify for voluntary manslaughter can vary from state to state and even jurisdiction to jurisdiction, however the usual “test” is reasonableness. Provocation in the form of battery, adultery or illegal arrest might be judged sufficient provocation for charges of voluntary manslaughter, although each situation is different and the facts of the case dictate whether voluntary manslaughter, involuntary manslaughter or murder charges are filed.
A Belief the Killing is Justified
Voluntary manslaughter may also be charged in a homicide in which the defendant has a mistaken belief that the killing is justified. As an example, suppose a man is the original aggressor of a fight. The other person responds in an equally aggressive manner, leading the first man to believe he must kill the other person as an act of self-defense—even though the first man started the altercation. In other cases, a person may have an honest—but unreasonable—belief that the situation at hand requires deadly force. If this is the case, voluntary manslaughter may be charged. When self-defense is “reasonable” and “proportional,” the killing would be judged a justified homicide.
Penalties for Voluntary Manslaughter in Pennsylvania
Among the defenses typically used for charges of voluntary manslaughter are self-defense, an accidental killing without intent and battered women’s syndrome. In the state of Pennsylvania, voluntary manslaughter is a first-degree felony. A conviction of voluntary manslaughter can bring a prison sentence of up to twenty years. For defendant’s who already have two or more convictions for violent offenses, the law requires a minimum sentencing of 25 years in prison, with the option of increasing that sentence to life in prison without parole if the defendant is judged to be a threat to public safety.
Voluntary Manslaughter Charges are Extremely Serious
As you can see from the penalties above, being charged with voluntary manslaughter is extremely serious, particularly if you have prior violent offense convictions. It is essential that you have legal representation so that any evidence which is not in your favor can be challenged, or potentially discredited. If there were witnesses to the act who can corroborate your claim of self-defense, your charges may be reduced. Remember that you will be facing a very determined state prosecutor, therefore you need every possible advantage your attorney can garner to avoid spending many years in prison.
Get The “Right Defense” When facing Pennsylvania Voluntary Manslaughter Charges
When you or a loved one is facing voluntary manslaughter allegations or charges, gain the benefit and experience of the Ciccarelli Legal Team. We bring years of experience defending clients, demanding justice and fighting for acquittals. Our team is ready to represent you when you are facing homicide and murder charges in Pennsylvania. We are based in based in suburban Philadelphia and serve clients throughout Pennsylvania. Contact us at (610) 692-8700.