Voluntary vs. Involuntary Manslaughter in Mississippi

The difference between voluntary and involuntary manslaughter is important to know, because this could make the difference between limited time in prison and a lifetime in prison. Our attorneys at the Carmody Law Firm know the difference, and will fight for your rights and your freedom in court.  

What are the Elements of Voluntary Manslaughter? 

In Mississippi, voluntary manslaughter is the intentional killing of another person. However, the act does not need to be premeditated, such as killing during combat or after being provoked by the alleged victim. Note that the provocation has to be reasonable. For example, mere insults are not simply enough to constitute reasonable provocation for you to kill the person. 

There are mitigating factors though, such as: heat of passion caused by reasonable provocation, heat of passion caused by sudden combat, and excessive force used in self-defense or in the defense of another. 

The decision about the severity of your voluntary manslaughter charges will be for a judge or jury to decide. The law recognizes that emotions produced by provocations and situations like this can be extremely powerful and may cause some people to lose self-control. This loss of self-control could turn a homicide charge into a lesser offense of manslaughter, therefore decreasing the amount of time in jail.  

Note that in Mississippi, the difference between murder and voluntary manslaughter is the heat of passion as mentioned above. Both acts also involve purposefully killing someone known as criminal intent. Voluntary manslaughter occurs if the alleged killer acted when their thinking was disturbed by emotional excitement to the point that a reasonable person might have acted on impulse without thinking twice. The killing itself must be the direct result of the emotional excitement or reasonable provocation for the act to be considered manslaughter over murder. This typically happens when a person is acting in self-defense but overreacts and kills another person, because the self-defense was “in the heat of passion.” The reaction to kill has to happen instantaneously; if the person has had any time to “cool off” before they perform the killing, it will be premeditated. For instance, a fight in a bar is followed by the person going out to his car, getting a pistol and re-entering the bar to shoot and kill his attacker. However, voluntary manslaughter is punishable by imprisonment of up to 20 years in state prison, fines, and possible restitution. 

What are the Elements of Involuntary Manslaughter? 

Involuntary manslaughter, on the other hand, occurs when someone unintentionally causes the death of another person when the defendant was engaging in some type of reckless conduct or while causing a serious injury to another person. Note that unintentionally is defined as the defendant’s intent to commit the act that ultimately caused the death of the victim, but not the intent to actually cause the death itself. Also, the wanton or reckless conduct addressed in the statute is conduct that creates a high degree of likelihood that substantial harm will result against another person. 

Motor vehicle homicide is considered a criminal offense that punishes those that, due to their intoxication, operate a vehicle negligently and recklessly, causing the death of another person. Motor vehicle homicide charges can be either a misdemeanor or felony, depending on if the driver was impaired by alcohol or drugs. The penalties for involuntary manslaughter can include up to 20 years in state prison, fines, and possible restitution.  

Charged with Manslaughter? 

If you are or fear you might be charged with manslaughter in Mississippi, it is important to distinguish between voluntary and involuntary manslaughter conduct. Enlist the help of a qualified criminal defense attorney to represent you. A good attorney could argue a case of involuntary over voluntary manslaughter and even argue for mitigated charges, depending on the situation. 

What should an Offender do if they are being Charged with Manslaughter? 

If you have been searching the Mississippi area for a qualified, experienced criminal defense attorney, look no further than Vic Carmody Jr., P.A. Over the years, we have helped numerous defendants pursue favorable outcomes. Although being accused of manslaughter is not a pleasant experience, there are many potential defense strategies that can be used to defend and reduce the charges against an offender. Call/contact us today for your free consultation to learn more.  

Please also see us on mississippi-lawyers.com and view our reviews on avvo.com, superlawyers.com, and martindale.com. Our email address is mississippi-lawyers.com and our office phone number is (601) 948 – 4444 option 1. 

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