Voluntary Manslaughter vs. Murder and Self-Defense

Kurtz Blum, PLLC | Raleigh Criminal LawyersIf a person gets into an altercation with someone, and ends up fatally shooting the other person, will he be charged with murder? Could the killing be justified as an act of self-defense? Or will the shooter be charged with voluntary manslaughter?

When is voluntary manslaughter applicable?

Among the three cases or charges mentioned, you may be least familiar with voluntary manslaughter. Murder is the crime of unlawfully and intentionally killing a person, while self-defense is the justified act of protecting yourself from a person that would have obviously caused you physical injury or killed you if you did not repel the attack. Voluntary manslaughter, on the other hand, is defined as intentional killing by someone who had no prior intent to kill. The killing may have been brought about by “heat of passion”, or may be a case of “imperfect self-defense.”

In imperfect self-defense, the defendant should have the belief that (1) there was imminent danger to his safety; and (2) deadly force was needed to protect himself. However, one or both of these beliefs are unreasonable. In other words, the victim could have been stopped in another, nonfatal way; or the victim had no intention of harming or killing the defendant. Therefore, killing him/her was unjustified.

An experienced criminal attorney can examine a case to determine which charge it could fall under. The lawyer may help the client get a lesser charge, (from murder to involuntary manslaughter, for example) through evidence building and other defense strategies.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s