Philadelphia Manslaughter Defense Lawyers
The unlawful killing of another human being is quite possibly the most serious criminal offense a person can commit. However, not every unlawful killing is considered murder. Murder involves the intentional and sometimes premeditated killing of the victim. In cases where the killing was not intentional but rather the result of intense provocation or some sort of reckless behavior, you could instead be charged with manslaughter.
Manslaughter can sound very similar to murder. It is not uncommon for defendants to be charged with murder at first and later have their charges reduced to manslaughter. Murder charges carry extremely harsh penalties. You could be locked up for several decades or life. Pennsylvania also permits the death penalty for first-degree murder convictions. Manslaughter convictions, however, have much lower prison terms, and the death penalty is not an option.
If you are facing manslaughter charges or murder charges that could be reduced to manslaughter, please call our offices for help. Our Philadelphia manslaughter defense lawyers can help you fight your charges. Call The Law Offices of Lloyd Long at (215) 302-0171 to set up a confidential, free legal consultation.
Manslaughter Charges in Philadelphia
Manslaughter is a form of criminal homicide that is considered less severe than murder. There are two forms of manslaughter in Pennsylvania: voluntary and involuntary. Voluntary manslaughter is generally considered more serious than involuntary manslaughter and often comes with higher penalties. Involuntary manslaughter is commonly applied through plea bargaining, although it may be an initial charge in some cases.
Voluntary manslaughter involves killing another person without any legal justification due to sudden and very intense provocation. People sometimes refer to this charge as a killing “in the heat of passion.” The sudden provocation must be so intense that any reasonable person might lose control. However, if there was sufficient time for the defendant to calm down before committing the crime, it may instead be charged as murder.
Voluntary manslaughter is also charged when a person commits a killing under the mistaken belief that a legal justification protected them. A legal justification would be things like killing in self-defense. For example, if you shoot and kill someone because you believe they are about to pull a gun on you, but it turns out they never had a gun, your self-defense justification would be mistaken, and you could be charged with voluntary manslaughter.
Voluntary manslaughter may be charged as a first-degree felony. This is different than first-degree murder, which is punished differently from other felonies. Call our Philadelphia manslaughter defense lawyers for help with your case.
Involuntary manslaughter in Philadelphia is an unintentional killing. Involuntary manslaughter may be charged when a defendant accidentally kills someone as a result of their reckless or grossly negligent behavior. The negligent or reckless behavior may be a lawful or unlawful act, but the act must be the direct cause of the victim’s death. An accidental killing from a car accident is not usually charged as involuntary manslaughter since there is a separate vehicular homicide statute.
A reckless act is one in which the actor is aware that their actions carry a risk of injury or death, and they choose to proceed anyway. A negligent act is one in which the actor is unaware of the risk of injury or death, but the risk is so significant that they reasonably should have been aware.
Involuntary manslaughter may be charged as a first-degree misdemeanor, which is far less severe than a felony charge. However, if the victim was younger than 12 and the defendant had custody or control over the victim (e.g., a parent or guardian), then the charges may be a second-degree felony. Get in touch with our Philadelphia manslaughter defense lawyers for assistance with your case.
Penalties for Manslaughter in Philadelphia
Voluntary manslaughter is often charged as a first-degree felony. First-degree felonies are the highest level of felony. According to Title 18, § 1103 of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, a first-degree felony may be punished by a prison term of up to 20 years.
Involuntary manslaughter may be charged as a first-degree misdemeanor, the most serious misdemeanor charges possible. According to Title 18, § 1104 of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, a first-degree misdemeanor may result in up to 5 years behind bars. However, if your charges are upgraded to a second-degree felony, as mentioned above, you may face imprisonment of up to 10 years.
The penalties for manslaughter could range from a few years behind bars to a couple of decades. Our Philadelphia manslaughter defense lawyers can help you make sense of your charges and work to get them reduced or dismissed.
How Manslaughter is Different from Murder in Philadelphia
Murder and manslaughter both involve the unlawful killing of another person. However, the circumstances surrounding each crime are somewhat different. It can be hard to tell the difference between the two crimes as many manslaughter cases resemble murder. Our Philadelphia manslaughter defense attorneys can help you argue against murder charges and advocate for lesser manslaughter charges.
Murder is an intentional killing and may be charged as murder in the first, second, or third degree. A first-degree murder typically involves premeditation or a plan in advance to do the killing. Second-degree murder is typically committed during another felony, like a bank robbery. Third-degree murder is any murder that does not fit in the other two categories.
Manslaughter is similar to murder but usually has a different level of intent on the defendant’s part. Manslaughter can be unintentional and caused by reckless behavior rather than purposeful intent. Even if the killing is intentional, manslaughter does not involve premeditation, and the intent may arise from provocation or a mistaken justification.
Contact our Philadelphia manslaughter defense attorneys to discuss your charges and how we can help defend you in court.
Contact Our Philadelphia Manslaughter Defense Lawyers
If you have been charged with manslaughter or any other form of criminal homicide, contact our Philadelphia manslaughter defense attorneys for help. Schedule a free, private legal consultation with the team at The Law Offices of Lloyd Long by calling (215) 302-0171.