Often, people fail to tell apart the crimes that are murder and manslaughter. While both of these crimes are felonies, murder is considered homicide with a malicious afterthought, while manslaughter involves the absence of malice afterthought.
Therefore, manslaughter removes the moral blame equation that is usually associated with murder. Although manslaughter is still considered a serious crime, it’s generally less than murder. Manslaughter is classified under two variations: voluntary and involuntary manslaughter.
Involuntary manslaughter is unintentional homicide and is sometimes referred to as unintentional killing through the commission of another crime other than a felony. On the other hand, voluntary manslaughter or heat of passion crime occurs when someone is strongly provoked and kills after being aroused by the provocation.
The Florida Statute 782.07 illegalizes manslaughter. Even if the killer didn’t kill someone, Florida Statute 777.04 prohibits people from attempting manslaughter. Attempted voluntary manslaughter is considered a third-degree felony in the United States and carries serious charges and sentencing.
If you have been charged with attempted voluntary manslaughter, it’s important that you contact West Palm Beach criminal defense lawyers to handle your case.
What Is Attempted Voluntary Manslaughter
Manslaughter refers to the unlawful killing of a person sans malice and is usually considered a crime of passion. Malice differs from intentionally committing a crime as one involves premeditation while the other doesn’t.
Attempted voluntary manslaughter refers to when a person committed an act that would have resulted in the death of the victim, but something or someone else stopped the death, therefore, invalidating the defendant’s intent to kill the victim.
For one to be convicted of attempted voluntary manslaughter, the prosecutor must prove that:
- The victim would have died
- The defendant:
- Intentionally went through with the acts that would have resulted in the death
- Was culpably negligent, which would have resulted in the victim’s death
You can’t be charged with attempted voluntary manslaughter if your actions were only negligent. The prosecutor has to prove that you were culpably negligent and that your negligence was of a higher level. Negligence is more of a goof-up, while culpable negligence is a goof-up with an additional disregard about another person’s safety.
You also can’t be charged with attempted voluntary manslaughter if the potential killing was justifiable. The crime is excusable if the act resulted from another incident that doesn’t fall within the legal limits.
For instance, if a bank robber kills a few people while robbing a bank, anyone who almost kills the robber in one way or another can’t be charged for attempted voluntary manslaughter. Similarly, you can’t be charged if you were trying to prevent your own murder.
The defendant doesn’t need to have intended to kill the victim. The prosecutor has to prove that the defendant intended to act in a way that would have led to the inexcusable or unjustifiable death.
Penalties of Attempted Voluntary Manslaughter
The penalties for attempted voluntary manslaughter are significantly less severe than those of attempted murder. Attempted murder could result in you spending your life in prison. However, the penalties for attempted voluntary manslaughter include:
- A state prison sentence of three, six, or a maximum of 11 years
- A fine not exceeding $10,000
- Mandatory counseling
- Mandatory community service
- Loss of the right to firearms
The penalties may be harsher if you have a previous strike on your record.
Legal Defenses Against Attempted Voluntary Manslaughter Charges
If you are convicted and charged with attempted murder, the first step is to contact an attorney. The lawyer will be able to make your case and get the charges reduced to attempted voluntary manslaughter. Even then, you and your team will need a solid defense strategy to fight the lesser charges. Here are some common legal defenses against attempted voluntary manslaughter charges.
Your lawyer may argue that the unlawful killing attempt was an accident. They may argue that it was an accident by proving beyond a reasonable doubt that:
- You had no intention of harming the person
- You weren’t engaging in illegal behavior at the time of the accident
- You weren’t engaging in dangerous or negligent acts without exercising proper caution
Consider this example: Mike and Andrew are in a heated argument after finding out they have been seeing the same person. In the heat of the moment, Andrew pushes Mike down a staircase, and Mike hits his head on the concrete. In this case, it can be argued that Andrew didn’t intend to harm mike.
Self-Defense or Defense of Others
It’s not illegal to kill another person if you were defending yourself or others from getting killed, robbed, or raped. Your lawyer needs to prove that you acted justifiably in defense.
A good example of such a case would be when the defendant accidentally harms their partner during a violent domestic dispute. The lawyer can argue that had the defendant not acted, the victim would have killed them.
The insanity defense pardons criminal conduct, such as the unlawful killing of another person. However, your lawyer has to prove that you couldn’t distinguish right or wrong at the time due to some form of mental impairment or illness.
A suitable example would be a mental health patient violently attacking a therapist or health provider after having an outburst. In this case, an attorney could present notes proving that the defendant wasn’t in their right state of mind and wasn’t aware that they would be taking away human life.
While the intoxication defense isn’t the best route to take when trying to justify committing manslaughter, your attorney can argue that you were involuntarily intoxicated. They need to prove that you were drugged against your will and were only fighting for your life.
Contact a West Palm Beach Criminal Defense Lawyer Today
If you or anyone you know has been arrested and charged with attempted voluntary manslaughter, it’s imperative that you contact the experienced criminal defense attorneys at Meltzer & Bell. Our dedicated lawyers will fiercely fight for your rights and case through in-depth research and collaboration.
We will be by your side throughout the process and fight to have your charges reduced or dropped. Give us a call today to set up a free consultation, and let us walk you through the charges and possible defense strategies.