Killing someone in the heat of passion, without premeditation or malice aforethought, is different in the eyes of the law from carefully planning and deliberately carrying out a murder. Homicide that occurs due to sudden and intense emotion is classified as voluntary manslaughter.
If you are charged with voluntary manslaughter, you face some of Pennsylvania’s most severe penalties including years in prison. You will need to retain an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately who will stand by you in this stressful time and provide a strong defense.
Voluntary manslaughter is killing another person while you are in a sudden and intense passion resulting from serious provocation by:
- The individual killed.
- Another person you endeavored to kill but instead you negligently or accidentally caused the death of someone else.
In voluntary manslaughter, you were not at the time acting in self-defense. You were not capable of rational thought because you were in the grip of fury, terror or some other powerful emotion.
You may also commit voluntary manslaughter if you intentionally believe your killing was justified, and that if the circumstances presented themselves again your killing would be justified again, but your belief is unreasonable.
Voluntary manslaughter is a felony of the first degree punishable by up to 20 years in prison.
What To Do If You Are Charged
If you are charged, do not anger the arresting officer unnecessarily.
You will probably be held in jail overnight. At this stage, do not discuss what happened with the police or claim your innocence.
- As with most criminal charges, you should not talk to the police or prosecutors without your attorney by your side. What you say can be taken out of context and used against you.
If the police question you, tell them you want a lawyer and politely refuse to answer their questions.
What Your Lawyer Can Do
Your attorney will carefully review every aspect of your case to determine if there is evidence for all you have been accused of.
- Your lawyer will make every effort to discredit any evidence not in your favor.
- Much of what your lawyer can do to help you will depend on the exact circumstances of your case.
- If you were acting in self-defense, your lawyer will work to find evidence and/or witnesses to prove it.
Your lawyer will be looking at every avenue that can help you, so it’s important that you give them all of the information that can support your case.
How A Lawyer Will Help
When you are up against a voluntary manslaughter charge, even before your first hearing you will be facing a determined prosecutor. You need an attorney who will stand by you every step of the way, work hard to discredit any evidence – and work with you to determine your best course of action.
Pennsylvania Voluntary Manslaughter Law
Voluntary manslaughter is described and defined under The Pennsylvania Criminal Code under Title 18, Chapter 25. Read the code here.
Questions? Contact us today.
Based on the evidence, Fienman Defense will try to show that the charges should be dismissed. If it’s in your best interest, we will work to negotiate a lesser sentence. Should the case go to trial, we will fight to present the strongest defense possible for your situation.