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The Difference Between Voluntary and Involuntary Manslaughter

Voluntary manslaughter means killing someone intentionally, although the killing was not premeditated, and involuntary manslaughter means recklessly causing an accident in which someone dies.

Recent changes to the law in Georgia, like in many other states, have lessened the punishments for many crimes, but the most serious criminal charges a person can get are for crimes that result in the death of another person. In Georgia, the punishment for murder is life in prison without the possibility of parole; prosecutors can even seek the death penalty in a murder case. Even though police may try to confuse you while questioning you and perhaps even try to deceive you into confessing to murder, not all crimes involving a victim’s death are murder. If you are being accused of actions that directly or indirectly caused someone’s death, the best thing you can do is to exercise your right to remain silent when being questioned and to contact an Atlanta manslaughter defense lawyer.

The Difference Between Murder and Manslaughter in Georgia Law

Killing someone on purpose does not always count as murder in Georgia. If the killing was premeditated, meaning that the defendant planned in advance to kill the victim, then it is murder. Voluntary manslaughter is when the defendant killed the victim in the heat of the moment, and the circumstances are such that a reasonable person would be angry enough to kill. An oft-cited example is someone catching their spouse cheating and shooting the spouse, the affair partner, or both.

Voluntary manslaughter has a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, but the sentence can be as little as one year. The punishment for murder, however, is life in prison without parole. Getting a defense lawyer involved in your case from the beginning can mean the difference between a murder charge and a voluntary manslaughter charge.

Killing someone in self-defense is not murder or voluntary manslaughter. Some defendants accused of murder and voluntary manslaughter have been acquitted after persuading the jury that they acted in self-defense because the victim was trying to kill, rape, or seriously injure them.

What if the Death Was Accidental?

If you accidentally cause someone’s death, the criminal charge that applies is involuntary manslaughter. Many cases of involuntary manslaughter involve fatal traffic accidents, where the manslaughter charge is sometimes called homicide by vehicle. The punishment for manslaughter varies according to the circumstances of the accident. It can range from misdemeanor charges, resulting in less than a year of jail time, to felony charges punishable by up to 10 years in prison. Therefore, even if no one is accusing you of intentionally killing someone, there is still a lot at stake regarding your future, and you still need to work with a lawyer right from the beginning.

In Manslaughter Cases, Let Your Lawyer Do the Talking

In manslaughter cases, it is essential to work with a skilled criminal defense lawyer who understands the nuances of the law. Contact the defense lawyers at Ghanayem & Rayasam in Atlanta, Georgia about manslaughter cases.