Columbia Manslaughter Lawyer

The state recognizes two homicide charges that do not rise to the level of murder, voluntary and involuntary manslaughter. Both charges include the requirement that the defendant caused a person’s death without legal justification. However, manslaughter does not include the malice necessary to prove murder.

If you are a homicide suspect, it could be in your best interest to hire a criminal defense attorney. Any homicide charge is a felony with potentially serious consequences. Even if you do not receive a lengthy prison sentence, the consequences of a felony conviction go beyond the sentence impacting your ability to find work, own a weapon, and much more. If you are facing accusations, contact a Columbia manslaughter lawyer today.

Homicide Charges Explained

South Carolina Code § 16-3-1 describes the different degrees of homicide and the potential punishment for convictions. For most degrees of homicide, including murder, the state must prove the defendant’s malice. However, malice is not a necessary element of manslaughter charges.

While manslaughter is a lesser homicide offense, it is still a felony based on the unlawful killing of a person. Involuntary manslaughter does not require an intent to kill, it can be an accidental killing by someone who was being careless.

If a defendant wants to avoid a conviction for taking someone’s life, they need to enlist the help of a manslaughter lawyer in Columbia. Since the key difference between murder and manslaughter is the intent of the alleged perpetrator, a strong defense can be essential for avoiding an escalation to murder charges.

Voluntary Manslaughter

South Carolina Code § 16-3-50 defines manslaughter as the unlawful killing of another without express or implied malice. The potential sentence for voluntary manslaughter is two to 30 years.

In terms of the facts of someone’s death, there is no difference between manslaughter and murder. The defendant’s actions are the same for each type of crime. What makes the difference is the defendant’s state of mind. Voluntary manslaughter requires that the defendant be acting in the heat of passion and with sufficient legal provocation.

This charge is complex because the defense has leeway to establish both the heat of passion and what constitutes legal provocation. The heat of passion refers to the defendant experiencing some type of uncontrollable emotion, such as rage or terror. The heat of passion does not excuse a homicide, but it does remove malice. Legal provocation refers to circumstances that would cause a reasonable person to lose self-control.

A Columbia attorney can help investigate the circumstances of a case and advise a defendant whether the facts support a voluntary manslaughter claim. If so, they may be able to negotiate a plea deal to avoid taking unnecessary chances at a trial.

Involuntary Manslaughter

South Carolina Code § 16-3-60 describes involuntary manslaughter, which is a killing that is the result of criminal negligence and reckless disregard for others’ safety. The sentence for involuntary manslaughter is zero to five years.

Reckless disregard goes beyond routine carelessness. Engaging in a criminal activity that is not ordinarily deadly to people is an example of reckless disregard. However, an activity does not have to be illegal to be reckless, if it is hazardous, it may meet the requirements for involuntary manslaughter charges.

A manslaughter attorney in Columbia may argue that the event was not a homicide at all. Instead, they may suggest that it was a pure accident and that the defendant’s behavior was not reckless.

Meet With a Columbia Manslaughter Attorney

Being charged with any form of homicide is of the utmost seriousness. You need to connect with a Columbia manslaughter attorney as soon as possible. An attorney may be able to help you present facts to the police that support the notion that the killing was legal, helping you avoid homicide charges altogether. In other instances, they may be able to secure a manslaughter plea deal or conviction instead of murder. Call today to schedule a consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney.