Manslaughter may either be voluntary or involuntary.
Florida state laws establish the criminal offense of manslaughter when a homicide, the killing of a human being, does not meet the legal definition of murder. Manslaughter, unlike murder, does not require evidence of the defendant’s premeditation or “depraved mind” with disregard for human life; instead, the state requires proof of either voluntary manslaughter or involuntary manslaughter.
The crime of voluntary manslaughter describes a homicide intentionally committed while in the midst of a provocation. The prosecutor must show a sudden, unexpected event or circumstance serving as a provocation. As a result of the provocation, the defendant must have felt a temporary anger, heat of passion, or emotion that immediately resulted in an intent to kill or an intent to commit the act that resulted in the victim’s death.
Besides establishing the provocation and the defendant’s intent, the prosecutor must also establish the defendant’s act as the cause of the victim’s death.
Involuntary manslaughter on the other hand, does not require willful intent but rather culpable negligence such as a wanton disregard for human life or reckless disregard for life.
The state may be able to prove involuntary manslaughter by showing the defendant’s recklessness or lack of care when handling a dangerous instrument or weapon, or while engaging in a range of other activities that could lead to death if performed recklessly.
Florida state laws also establish involuntary manslaughter when excessive force is used in circumstances of self-defense. The prosecution and defense can look at the facts and circumstances of the killing to determine whether the defendant reasonably believed that self-defense was necessary; if not necessary, the state might proceed with an involuntary manslaughter charge.
Manslaughter may occur in three different ways:
1)By Act: an act which is neither excusable or justified and lead to the death of another person;
2)By Procurement: persuading, inducing, or enticing another person to commit an act that causes the death of another human being;
3)By Culpable Negligence: blameworthy acts that cause the death of a human being;
An example of involuntary manslaughter by culpable negligence would be driving under the influence which led to the death of another human being. DUI manslaughter is usually involuntary manslaughter wherein the charged party commits a culpably negligent act resulting in death.
Manslaughter charges are serious and the assistance of an experienced criminal defense lawyer is beneficial in defending against such charges.