There are two principal types of manslaughter under California law: voluntary and involuntary.
Voluntary manslaughter: Voluntary manslaughter laws apply to killings that take place during a sudden quarrel or in the heat of passion. This means that the killing was provoked, driving the defendant to act rashly and under the influence of intense emotions that obscured their reasoning or judgment. To satisfy the criteria for voluntary manslaughter as opposed to murder, the provocation has to be such that it would cause an average person to react emotionally.
Involuntary manslaughter: Involuntary manslaughter is an unlawful but unintentional killing that takes place during the commission of either an unlawful act (not a felony) or a lawful act that involves a high risk of harm or death. In the latter instance, the act must have been committed without proper caution or circumspection.
If convicted of violating Penal Code 192(a) PC (the state’s voluntary manslaughter law), a person can be sentenced to three, six, or eleven years in the state prison. Other potential penalties include a possible strike on one’s record pursuant to California’s three strikes law, a fine of up to $10,000, community service, and loss of the right to possess or own a firearm.
Anyone found guilty of involuntary manslaughter can be sentenced to up to four years in the state prison or formal probation with up to one year in jail. Other potential penalties include a fine of up to $10,000 and the loss of the right to possess or own a firearm.
Manslaughter convictions can also trigger civil lawsuits, otherwise known as wrongful death suits.
Like state law, federal law defines manslaughter is the unlawful killing of another person without malice. Anyone found guilty of committing voluntary manslaughter on federal territory or under circumstances that warrant federal prosecution can be fined and / or imprisoned for up to 15 years. A conviction for involuntary manslaughter can result in a fine and / or up to 8 years in prison.
Attempted murder, Murder, DUI manslaughter, Vehicular manslaughter
A person needs to hire an experienced California criminal defense attorney as soon as they are arrested or become aware that they are being investigated for manslaughter. An attorney with a background in defending manslaughter charges will be able to properly assess the evidence and recommend steps to ensure the best possible outcome for their client.
Self-defense, accidental killing, insufficient evidence, and mental illness are all valid defenses to a California manslaughter charge.
On February 4, 2013, model Reena Ashlie Sanchez was arrested on suspicion of drunk driving and charged with manslaughter and child endangerment after she allegedly caused a fatal crash while her two young children were in the backseat. She was speeding down El Camino Avenue in Sacramento when her car struck an SUV and caused it to collide with a tree. A 30-year-old man was killed, while another passenger was rushed to a local hospital.