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Manslaughter + Laws, Charges & Statute of Limitations

June 23, 2020

Manslaughter is a term that refers to homicide. The difference between manslaughter and murder is the intent of the crime. A manslaughter charge recognizes that the defendant had no malicious intent to murder. in both a manslaughter and murder case a killing occurs. The difference is, the behavior of manslaughter is somewhat justifiable according to the legal system.

What Laws Govern Manslaughter

In a manslaughter case, the defendant is already identified as the killer of the victim. Guilt is already established. The question that is left for the legal system to answer is whether the defendant’s actions are reasonable. The code declares that manslaughter is classified as a no malice unlawful killing of another individual.

The law that governs manslaughter can be found in 18 U.S. Code. There is a specific manslaughter section.

Involuntary Manslaughter vs. Voluntary Manslaughter

There are two types of manslaughter. They are:

• Involuntary manslaughter – an unlawful crime that is not deemed a felony. Death of a human-caused by another human that acted unlawfully and without caution.
• Voluntary manslaughter – described as a “heat of passion murder.” This type of manslaughter action occurs after a quarrel or altercation

What Are Manslaughter Charges?

For someone to be convicted of voluntary manslaughter it must be proven that the person killed as a result of a provocation. Without a reasonable doubt, no malice or ill intent must be proven. A voluntary manslaughter charge proves that the murder was a heat of passion crime. Killings that occur in an unexpected moment of rage or anger fall under voluntary manslaughter.

A killing that happens by accident is involuntary manslaughter. In some cases, involuntary manslaughter is considered criminal negligence. Although the crime was an accident, punishment is still required.

Involuntary manslaughter charges acknowledge the reckless and negligent behavior of the defendant. It mandates that the defendant is legally liable for the crime.

What Is The Punishment for Manslaughter?

The 18 U.S. Code clearly outlines the punishment for manslaughter. Specifically, in paragraph 1112- Manslaughter. The following are the listed legal punishment criteria for the criminal charge of manslaughter:

• If convicted of manslaughter, you will receive no more than 15-years of prison time. There can also be a fine associated with the sentencing of voluntary manslaughter
• For the conviction of involuntary manslaughter, you will receive no more than 8-years of prison time and a possible fine

The punishments listed above, have been set by the federal government. There are more laws and regulatory practices set by each state. Depending on the state, the punishment for manslaughter can be different.

Sentencing Criteria for Manslaughter

Wherever a manslaughter trial is held, that is the jurisdiction responsible for sentencing. Ultimately, the specific details and aggravating factors of the case will help determine the required prison sentence.

Sentencing guidelines vary by state. For example, the federal government set a guideline that anyone convicted of voluntary manslaughter can face up to 15 years in prison. Federal recommended suggestions are not followed the same by each state.

Reckless behavior and actions are both factored into manslaughter sentencing. The judge has the final say in sentencing mandates when it comes to both voluntary and involuntary manslaughter.

Statute of Limitations

The statute of limitations for manslaughter varies throughout the U.S. The different types of manslaughter convictions can carry various statutes of limitations. Generally, the statute of limitations for a manslaughter conviction ranges around 2-years.

It is imperative to know that manslaughter does not qualify as a murder charge. There is no statute of limitations in a murder conviction. A conviction of manslaughter charge in all states has a statute of limitations.
Statute of limitations tolling can take place. What this means is that there can be a temporary suspension of the statute of limitations. Tolling can occur if the person who committed the crime cannot be located or attempts to go into hiding.

In general, there are caveats to the statute of limitations. For many states, the alleged criminal has to stay in the confines of the state border.
Overall, a manslaughter conviction is less severe than a murder charge. A voluntary or involuntary manslaughter conviction can face anywhere from a few years up to 15 years.

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