In our last blog, we discussed involuntary manslaughter, defining the term and offering defenses against the crime. We also discussed how easy it is to get confused by the very idea of manslaughter. The crime is much more than simply killing someone by accident. It involves willful, negligent behavior that results in someone’s death
The legal words that differentiate the different types of manslaughter only add to the confusion. For instance, the words “voluntary manslaughter” are misleading by themselves. If manslaughter is an unintentional killing, how could it be voluntary?
How Can Manslaughter Be Voluntary?
The term “voluntary manslaughter” refers to the intent behind the act. The accused did not mean to kill someone, but they did voluntarily cause harm.
Here are some potential examples of voluntary manslaughter:
- Two people get into a fight. One opponent clearly loses and gives up, but the other continues to savagely beat them until they die.
- An enraged driver intentionally hits another car. The other driver loses control and dies.
- In an initial act of self-defense, someone goes too far. They savagely beat their attacker to death.
Nevada’s Voluntary Manslaughter Penalties
Voluntary manslaughter is a serious crime in the state. It is a Category B felony, the second most severe crime in Nevada’s system. If convicted, you could face 1 to 10 years in prison and fines as high as $10,000.
Defenses Against Voluntary Manslaughter
Being convicted of this crime can ruin your life. A severe felony will appear on your record, possibly forever. You could lose your freedom for a decade and pay exorbitant amounts of money on fines. Always remember that you have the option to challenge criminal allegations in court. If you’ve been charged with involuntary manslaughter, talk with your attorney about the following defenses.
You Acted with Reasonable Self-Defense
Above, we gave an example of self-defense gone awry, leading to a criminal charge. You can still use a self-defense claim to defend against voluntary manslaughter.
A key component to any self-defense claim is that the defense was proportionate to the attack. For example, a slap can warrant a slap in response. If you return a slap with a punch, however, you could be charged with a crime.
To prove you acted in self-defense, you must demonstrate that your actions were reasonable given the situation. If you, for instance, sincerely believe that your life is in danger, and your attacker won’t give up, a fatal response may be justified.
You Were Not in Your Right Mind
A health crisis can sometimes lead to violent, erratic behavior. Imagine you were prescribed the wrong medicine, or you were unaware of a tumor developing in your brain. If a temporary health concern caused you to harm someone, the court may not hold you responsible for these actions.
Be careful with this defense, however. It is not the same as an insanity plea. Insanity pleas essentially claim that someone cannot care for themselves and cannot be trusted to live in society. Offenders do not technically go to prison, but they do go to high-security hospitals and have very limited freedoms. Insanity pleas are for those who truly need round-the-clock care and observation.
Our team is ready to help you fight manslaughter accusations. For a free consultation, contact us online or call us at (775) 502-1575.