The Difference Between Involuntary and Voluntary Manslaughter

Florida Manslaughter Laws

A homicide, or murder, is the killing of another human being. In some cases, the killing does not meet the legal definition of murder. Murder, in the legal world, requires that the killing was premeditated, meaning the defendant thought about committing the killing prior, or that the defendant had a depraved disregard for human life. There instances, however, where a killing has occurred but the person who committed the act that resulted in the death of another did not think about it beforehand or have a depraved mind. For these cases, the law has created the crime of “manslaughter.”

What Is the Difference Between Involuntary and Voluntary Manslaughter?

There are two types of manslaughter: involuntary and voluntary. Involuntary manslaughter eliminates the need for a prosecutor to prove intent. The prosecutor does not need to prove that a defendant had an intent to kill nor does the prosecutor have to prove that the defendant intended to perform the action that resulted in the death of another. The prosecutor does need to show, however, that the defendant acted with “culpable negligence.” Under Florida law, this type of negligence means that the defendant was engaging in such wanton or reckless behavior that there was a clear disregard for the human life of another. Such disregard for human life may be shown if the defendant was reckless in handling a weapon or other dangerous instrumentality or engaging in an activity that would result in the death of another if carelessly performed.

The penalties for being convicted of involuntary manslaughter may vary slightly depending on the defendant’s criminal history. If it is shown that the defendant is a career criminal or has been convicted of violent crimes to the point that he or she would be considered a habitual violent crime offender, this would be considered during sentencing. The standard penalties for an involuntary manslaughter conviction include:

  • Prison for up to 15 years
  • Probation for up to 15 years
  • Up to $10,000 in fines

While involuntary manslaughter lacks the element of intent, voluntary manslaughter is defined by Florida law as a killing intentionally committed in the heat of passion or during a provocation. The intent to kill may be only present for a split second, but it is there for the crime of voluntary manslaughter. The prosecutor has the burden of proving that there were circumstances such as an unexpected occurrence that suddenly provoked the defendant to kill another person. The flash of anger, range, or some other trigger must have pushed the defendant to act in a way that was the direct cause of the death or another.

Voluntary manslaughter is generally a second degree felony in Florida. If convicted of voluntary manslaughter, you face up to 15 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.

Criminal Defense Counsel You Can Trust.

At Herman Law, P.A., we understand the seriousness of the charges our clients face. The consequences of a manslaughter conviction will follow you indefinitely. Attorney Ron Herman will mount the strongest possible legal defense and work tirelessly to clear your name in the court of law. Contact Herman Law, P.A. today.