24/7 call for a free consultation 212-300-5196

AS SEEN ON

EXPERIENCEDTop Rated

YOU MAY HAVE SEEN TODD SPODEK ON THE NETFLIX SHOW
INVENTING ANNA

When you’re facing a federal issue, you need an attorney whose going to be available 24/7 to help you get the results and outcome you need. The value of working with the Spodek Law Group is that we treat each and every client like a member of our family.

Client Testimonials

5

THE BEST LAWYER ANYONE COULD ASK FOR.

The BEST LAWYER ANYONE COULD ASK FOR!!! Todd changed our lives! He’s not JUST a lawyer representing us for a case. Todd and his office have become Family. When we entered his office in August of 2022, we entered with such anxiety, uncertainty, and so much stress. Honestly we were very lost. My husband and I felt alone. How could a lawyer who didn’t know us, know our family, know our background represents us, When this could change our lives for the next 5-7years that my husband was facing in Federal jail. By the time our free consultation was over with Todd, we left his office at ease. All our questions were answered and we had a sense of relief.

schedule a consultation

Blog

Penal Code 192(a) PC | Voluntary Manslaughter

Penal Code 192(a) PC | Voluntary Manslaughter in California

Voluntary manslaughter is a serious violent felony offense in California. It involves unlawfully killing someone during a sudden quarrel or in the heat of passion. While it is not considered murder under the law, voluntary manslaughter does carry stiff penalties if convicted.

This article provides an overview of the crime of voluntary manslaughter under Penal Code 192(a) PC. We’ll cover the legal definition, penalties, common defenses, and related offenses.

What is Voluntary Manslaughter Under California Law?

California Penal Code 192(a) PC defines voluntary manslaughter as the unlawful killing of a human being, without malice, upon a sudden quarrel or heat of passion. [1]

In order for a prosecutor to obtain a conviction for voluntary manslaughter, they must prove all of the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • The defendant committed an act that caused the death of another person
  • The defendant intended to kill when they acted
  • The killing occurred during a sudden quarrel or in the heat of passion
  • The defendant acted rashly or under the influence of intense emotion that obscured their reasoning or judgment
  • The provocation would have caused a reasonable person to act rashly in the same manner under the circumstances

Voluntary manslaughter is considered a lesser included offense of murder in California. This means it contains some, but not all, of the same elements as murder. The key distinction is that voluntary manslaughter lacks the element of malice aforethought, or the intent to kill, which is required for a murder conviction.

Prosecutors rarely file charges for voluntary manslaughter up front. More commonly, it arises during plea bargain negotiations in a murder case. The defense might argue that their client should plead guilty to voluntary manslaughter as a lesser offense, rather than face trial on a murder charge.

What’s the Difference Between Murder and Voluntary Manslaughter?

The main difference between murder and voluntary manslaughter under California law is whether the defendant acted with malice aforethought.

Christine Twomey
Christine Twomey
2024-03-21
Just had my Divorce case settled 2 months ago after having a horrible experience with another firm. I couldn’t be happier with Claire Banks and Elizabeth Garvey with their outstanding professionalism in doing so with Spodek Law Group. Any time I needed questions answered they were always prompt in doing so with all my uncertainties after 30 yrs of marriage.I feel from the bottom of my heart you will NOT be disappointed with either one. Thanks a million.
Brendan huisman
Brendan huisman
2024-03-18
Alex Zhik contacted me almost immediately when I reached out to Spodek for a consultation and was able to effectively communicate the path forward/consequences of my legal issue. I immediately agreed to hire Alex for his services and did not regret my choice. He was able to cover my case in court (with 1 day notice) and not only was he able to push my case down, he carefully negotiated a dismissal of the charge altogether. I highly recommend Spodek, and more specifically, Alex Zhik for all of your legal issues. Thanks guys!
Guerline Menard
Guerline Menard
2024-03-18
Thanks again Spodek law firm, particularly Esq Claire Banks who stood right there with us up to the finish line. Attached photos taken right outside of the court building and the smile on our faces represented victory, a breath of fresh air and satisfaction. We are very happy that this is over and we can move on with our lives. Thanks Spodek law 🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼🙌🏼❤️
Keisha Parris
Keisha Parris
2024-03-15
Believe every single review here about Alex Z!! From our initial consultation, it was evident that Alex possessed a profound understanding of criminal law and a fierce dedication to his clients rights. Throughout the entirety of my case, Alex exhibited unparalleled professionalism and unwavering commitment. What sets Alex apart is not only his legal expertise but also his genuine compassion for his clients. He took the time to thoroughly explain my case, alleviating any concerns I had along the way. His exact words were “I’m not worried about it”. His unwavering support and guidance were invaluable throughout the entire process. I am immensely grateful for Alex's exceptional legal representation and wholeheartedly recommend his services to anyone in need of a skilled criminal defense attorney. Alex Z is not just a lawyer; he is a beacon of hope for those navigating the complexities of the legal system. If you find yourself in need of a dedicated and competent legal advocate, look no further than Alex Z.
Taïko Beauty
Taïko Beauty
2024-03-15
I don’t know where to start, I can write a novel about this firm, but one thing I will say is that having my best interest was their main priority since the beginning of my case which was back in Winter 2019. Miss Claire Banks, one of the best Attorneys in the firm represented me very well and was very professional, respectful, and truthful. Not once did she leave me in the dark, in fact she presented all options and routes that could possibly be considered for my case and she reinsured me that no matter what I decided to do, her and the team will have my back and that’s exactly what happened. Not only will I be liberated from this case, also, I will enjoy my freedom and continue to be a mother to my first born son and will have no restrictions with accomplishing my goals in life. Now that’s what I call victory!! I thank the Lord, My mother, Claire, and the Spodek team for standing by me and fighting with me. Words can’t describe how grateful I am to have the opportunity to work with this team. I’m very satisfied, very pleased with their performance, their hard work, and their diligence. Thank you team!
Anthony Williams
Anthony Williams
2024-03-12
Hey, how you guys doing? Good afternoon my name is Anthony Williams I just want to give a great shout out to the team of. Spodek law group. It is such a honor to use them and to use their assistance through this whole case from start to finish. They did everything that they said they was gonna do and if it ever comes down to it, if I ever have to use them again, hands-down they will be the first law office at the top of my list, thank you guys so much. It was a pleasure having you guys by my side so if you guys ever need them, do not hesitate to pick up the phone and give them a call.
Loveth Okpedo
Loveth Okpedo
2024-03-12
Very professional, very transparent, over all a great experience
Bee L
Bee L
2024-02-28
Amazing experience with Spodek! Very professional lawyers who take your case seriously. They treated me with respect, were always available, and answered any and all questions. They were able to help me very successfully and removed a huge stress. Highly recommend.
divesh patel
divesh patel
2024-02-24
I can't recommend Alex Zhik and Spodek Law Firm highly enough for their exceptional legal representation and personal mentorship. From the moment I engaged their services in October 2022, Alex took the time to understand my case thoroughly and provided guidance every step of the way. Alex's dedication to my case went above and beyond my expectations. His expertise, attention to detail, and commitment to achieving the best possible outcome were evident throughout the entire process. He took the time to mentor me, ensuring I understood the legal complexities involved to make informed decisions. Alex is the kind of guy you would want to have a beer with and has made a meaningful impact on me. I also want to acknowledge Todd Spodek, the leader of the firm, who played a crucial role in my case. His leadership and support bolstered the efforts of Alex, and his involvement highlighted the firm's commitment to excellence. Thanks to Alex Zhik and Todd Spodek, I achieved the outcome I desired, and I am incredibly grateful for their professionalism, expertise, and genuine care. If you're in need of legal representation, look no further than this outstanding team.

For murder, the prosecution must prove the killing was intentional and deliberate, with malice aforethought. This means the defendant acted with the intent to kill, conscious disregard for life, or intent to commit a dangerous felony.

In contrast, voluntary manslaughter occurs when the defendant intentionally kills someone without malice aforethought. The killing happens in the heat of passion, under intense emotion, without time for reflection. While the defendant intended to kill, they did not act with premeditation or a malicious state of mind.

Some examples of voluntary manslaughter include:

  • A husband catches his wife cheating and kills her lover in a jealous rage
  • An argument escalates into a fistfight that turns deadly
  • A defendant kills an abuser while fighting back against abuse

In each case, the killing was intentional but occurred in the heat of passion without premeditation or malice. So voluntary manslaughter, rather than murder, would likely apply.

Penalties for Voluntary Manslaughter in California

Voluntary manslaughter is a felony offense in California punishable by:

  • 3, 6, or 11 years in state prison
  • Up to a $10,000 fine
  • A “strike” on your record under California’s Three Strikes law

By comparison, the penalty for first or second degree murder is 15 years to life in prison. So voluntary manslaughter carries significantly less severe penalties than murder in California.

A conviction will also result in the loss of gun ownership rights in California. And any sentence imposed may include additional fines, restitution to the victim’s family, and community service requirements.

Common Defenses to Voluntary Manslaughter Charges

There are several legal defenses that a skilled California criminal defense lawyer may use to contest voluntary manslaughter charges under Penal Code 192(a) PC.

Self-Defense

If the killing occurred while lawfully defending yourself or someone else, then it was justified and voluntary manslaughter does not apply. The use of reasonable force in self-defense is allowed under California law.

Imperfect Self-Defense

This defense argues the defendant had an actual but unreasonable belief that killing was necessary for self-defense. Since the belief was genuine, malice aforethought is negated. So while the defendant can be convicted of voluntary manslaughter, murder does not apply.

Heat of Passion

This argues the killing occurred under legally adequate provocation, like catching a spouse cheating. The provocation would cause a reasonable person to act rashly without judgment, negating malice aforethought.

Accident

If strong evidence shows the death was a true accident not intended by the defendant, then voluntary manslaughter does not apply. However, the defense must prove the defendant was acting lawfully and with reasonable care when the accident occurred.

Mental Condition

A mental health condition that prevented the defendant from understanding the nature of their actions or distinguishing right from wrong could provide a defense. But insanity defenses are extremely difficult to prove in California.

Related Offenses

There are several other homicide offenses in California that are related to voluntary manslaughter. These include:

  • Murder – Penal Code 187 PC
  • Involuntary Manslaughter – Penal Code 192(b) PC
  • Vehicular Manslaughter – Penal Code 192(c) PC
  • DUI Murder – “Watson Murder” under Penal Codes 187 and 189

Voluntary manslaughter lacks the malice element required for murder. Involuntary manslaughter involves accidental killings without malice. Vehicular and DUI manslaughter apply when driving under the influence results in death.

Lesser included offenses that may accompany a voluntary manslaughter charge include assault, battery, and domestic violence crimes.

Hiring an Experienced California Criminal Defense Lawyer

Voluntary manslaughter allegations must be taken very seriously. If convicted, you face years in prison, massive fines, and a permanent criminal record.

An experienced criminal defense lawyer can carefully examine the evidence in your case and build the strongest defense to contest the charges. Having skilled legal representation can make all the difference in the outcome.

Do not hesitate to contact a qualified defense attorney if you are facing investigation or prosecution for voluntary manslaughter in California. With an aggressive defense, many of these charges can be reduced or even dismissed entirely.

References

[1] https://codes.findlaw.com/ca/penal-code/pen-sect-192/

[2] https://www.shouselaw.com/ca/defense/penal-code/192/

[3] https://www.losangelescriminallawyer.pro/california-penal-code-section-192-a-pc-voluntary-manslaughter.html

[4] https://www.keglawyers.com/voluntary-manslaughter-penal-code-192-a

[5] https://www.cronisraelsandstark.com/voluntary-manslaughter-penal-code-192a

Lawyers You Can Trust

Todd Spodek

Founding Partner

view profile

RALPH P. FRANCHO, JR

Associate

view profile

JEREMY FEIGENBAUM

Associate Attorney

view profile

ELIZABETH GARVEY

Associate

view profile

CLAIRE BANKS

Associate

view profile

RAJESH BARUA

Of-Counsel

view profile

CHAD LEWIN

Of-Counsel

view profile

Criminal Defense Lawyers Trusted By the Media

schedule a consultation
Schedule Your Consultation Now