Many of us have gained some awareness of the legal system and police practice thanks to television crime series, novels, and other kinds of pop culture centered on the law. However, the finer points of the law are frequently obscured, especially when it comes to how and why certain offenses are prosecuted. This often happens with murder.
Murder is a term used to describe a variety of crimes in which one person kills another. However, in California, specific charges are brought based on the manner in which the killing occurred. Voluntary manslaughter charges, for example, are frequently filed when someone kills someone in the heat of passion or during a sudden brawl or dispute. When a man returns home to find his wife in bed with another man, he kills his wife’s lover “in the heat of passion,” as is the case in the classic instance of voluntary manslaughter.
Voluntary manslaughter cases are rarely brought on their own, as an experienced criminal defense attorney will tell you. These charges are usually the product of a plea bargain or agreement.
There are many advantages to a reduction of charges from murder to voluntary manslaughter
The potential benefits of reducing a murder charge to voluntary manslaughter are enormous. While both are felonies, murder carries the possibility of a life sentence. Voluntary manslaughter, on the other hand, carries a maximum sentence of 11 years in jail.
The legal definitions of murder and voluntary manslaughter
Under California law, you can be prosecuted with murder or voluntary manslaughter if you willfully kill another person without a valid explanation or act with a conscious disrespect for human life. The main distinction between the two counts is whether or not you acted with “malice aforethought.”
This means you behaved with the purpose to kill or with a callous contempt for human life. You could not have acted with malice aforethought if you behaved during a sudden disagreement or in the heat of anger, which indicates you committed voluntary manslaughter rather than murder.
Acting rashly and under the influence of intense emotion during a sudden dispute or in the heat of passion indicates you were provoked, and as a result of being provoked, you acted rashly and under the influence of intense emotion that clouded your logic or judgment. Finally, the provocation would have prompted the normal individual to act quickly and without thought.
Call an attorney now for a free legal consultation
Many people accused of killing another person hope to have their charges reduced to voluntary manslaughter. Based on the facts of your case and how judges have implemented the law surrounding voluntary manslaughter in California, a qualified criminal defense attorney can help you assess if this is viable.
Contact the Chambers Law Firm at 714-760-4088 or firstname.lastname@example.org if you have been charged with a crime in Southern California. We will start with a free legal consutlation and will vigorously defend your rights and liberties.