Handling Manslaughter Charges in California

Updated: Apr 22

How To Deal With Manslaughter Charges In California

If you wanted to or not, causing the death of another person will result in serious criminal charges. If you have been charged with involuntary manslaughter in Los Angeles, you can contact a Criminal Law Attorney right away.

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Manslaughter is a serious crime (Penal Code Section 192)

It is manslaughter under California Penal Code section 192, subdivisions (a) and (b) when a person kills another without intending to kill that person but does so in a fit of rage (voluntary manslaughter) or due to incompetence or during the commission of certain unlawful actions (involuntary manslaughter) (b). When another person's death is caused by grossly negligent or unlawful driving, manslaughter may be prosecuted under Penal Code section 192, subsection (c).

Even if the death was unintentional, manslaughter is a severe charge that necessitates the immediate assistance of an experienced Criminal Law Attorney. A strong defense may result in charges being dismissed or reduced, or, if convicted, a penalty that is on the lower end of the range of potential penalties.

In California, homicide is considered the worst of all violent crimes.

Homicide can be prosecuted in California under three different statutes:

  • California's murder law, Penal Code 187 PC, is the most serious form of homicide.

  • Voluntary manslaughter, Penal Code 192 PC

  • Involuntary manslaughter, Penal Code 192b PC

In California, there are some distinctions between murder and manslaughter.

To the family of a person murdered by another, the distinction between murder and homicide is irrelevant—a loved one is dead in any case. The distinction between the two terms may be significant for those accused of murdering another human being—the difference between being executed or spending the rest of your life in jail and serving fewer than twenty-five years in prison with the possibility of parole. The motive of the person charged with the death is the primary distinction between manslaughter and murder.

Murder needs Malice Aforethought

Murder in California is described as the intentional killing of a human being or fetus with "malice aforethought," which means you committed an act of "wanton disregard for human life" that had a high probability of causing the death of someone else.

There are two degrees of murder: first and second.

If the following conditions are met, first-degree murder is charged:

  • The homicide was planned, deliberate, or intentional.

  • A destructive device, poison, torture, lying in wait, or armor-piercing bullets are used in the homicide.

  • Under California's felony murder code, the homicide occurred during the commission of a variety of serious felony crimes.

It is felony murder under the current felony murder provision, which was signed into law in 2018 if you:

  • Directly kill someone while committing a felony or attempting to commit a felony.

  • Help and abet a murder.

  • Are you a key player in the homicide?

  • Assassinate a police officer who is on duty.

It's important to note that this new felony murder law replaces an old felony murder rule that permitted conviction regardless of motive if a victim died while committing a felony. If you did not knowingly kill anyone while committing a crime, you could not be charged with felony murder under the new rule.