Manslaughter – California Penal Code 192

Manslaughter
There are three types of manslaughter under California law.

Although it is seen as less severe than a murder charge, manslaughter is a very serious crime in California. Though they are similar in nature, manslaughter is not the same as murder. Murder requires malicious intent to cause the death of another. In comparison, manslaughter is the unlawful killing of another human being without malice. There are three types of manslaughter under California law:

  • Voluntary manslaughter
  • Involuntary manslaughter
  • Vehicular manslaughter

Manslaughter is a felony in most cases, which is punishable by a lengthy prison sentence and hefty fines. These severe consequences can be detrimental to you, your family and your career. Therefore, it is important to have an experienced attorney who will fight for you to get the best possible results in your case.

Voluntary Manslaughter – PC 192(a)

Voluntary Manslaughter
The killing of another person upon a sudden quarrel or heat of passion.

Voluntary Manslaughter is defined under California Penal Code Section 192(a)1 as “the unlawful killing of a human being upon a sudden quarrel or heat of passion.” In order to be charged with this crime, the accused must not have had the malicious intent to kill another person.

Examples of voluntary manslaughter include any type of killing due to a spontaneous heat of passion i.e., when a husband finds his wife having an affair with another man and kills in an act of rage.

What Constitutes a Voluntary Manslaughter Conviction?

To be convicted of a voluntary manslaughter charge under California Penal Code Section 192(a), the prosecution must prove:

  • You were provoked
  • The provocation drove you to act with impaired judgment and reasoning
  • Any reasonable person would have acted rashly when provoked in this manner

The prosecution must show that you were driven over the edge and lost your self-control and the action you committed was something any reasonable person would have done in the same situation.

Possible Defenses to a Voluntary Manslaughter Charge

In order to defend yourself from a voluntary manslaughter charge, you must prove that you acted in self-defense or acted in the defense of others. It is important to hire an experienced attorney who will work with you to develop a strong defense that can result in the charges against you being reduced or even dismissed.

Punishment for Voluntary Manslaughter

Under California Penal Code Section 192(a), voluntary manslaughter is a felony that is punishable by a state prison sentence of three, six or 11 years. A voluntary manslaughter conviction counts as a strike under California’s Three Strikes Law. Comparatively, a murder conviction can result in a sentence of life in prison. Therefore, it is important to have an experienced Wallin & Klarich attorney who can fight to have the charges against you dismissed or reduced to manslaughter.

Involuntary Manslaughter – PC 192(b)

Involuntary Manslaughter
Killing someone without intent to do so.

Involuntary manslaughter is defined under California Penal Code Section 192(b)2 as:

“The commission of an unlawful act, not amounting to a felony; or the commission of a lawful act which might produce death, in an unlawful manner, or without due caution and circumspection.”

Involuntary manslaughter is seen as a lesser charge than voluntary manslaughter or murder because the death that results from involuntary manslaughter is seen as unintentional.

Possible Defenses to an Involuntary Manslaughter Charge

To defend yourself from an involuntary manslaughter charge, you may argue:

  • Self-defense or the defense of another
  • Imperfect self-defense (when you fail to legally meet the requirement of self-defense i.e., shoot and kill someone during a fist fight)
  • The death was an accident
  • There is insufficient evidence

It is important to hire an experienced attorney who will work with you to develop a strong defense strategy that can result in the charges against you being reduced or dismissed.

Punishment for Involuntary Manslaughter

Although involuntary manslaughter is considered to be a lesser offense than voluntary manslaughter, involuntary manslaughter is still a felony in the state of California. Under California Penal Code Section 193(b) and 1170(h), an involuntary manslaughter conviction is punishable by two, three, or four years in county jail.

Depending on the circumstances of your case, you may be able to serve part of your county jail sentence under the mandatory supervision of a county probation officer under California Penal Code Section 672. In addition, you may also be required to pay fines up to $10,000. Therefore, it is important to have a skilled Wallin & Klarich attorney who may be able to have your charges reduced or dismissed.

A voluntary manslaughter conviction will not count as a “strike” under California’s Three Strikes Law. Though voluntary manslaughter is a homicide, it is not categorized as a “serious” or “violent” felony under California law.

Vehicular Manslaughter – PC 192(c)

Vehicular Manslaughter (2)
Driving a vehicle with ordinary negligence that results in the death of another.

Examples of ordinary negligence in a vehicular manslaughter charge in California include speeding, texting while driving and talking on a cell phone without a hands-free device.

You can be convicted of vehicular manslaughter if the driver or passenger of the car you hit dies of injuries related to the crash, a passenger in the car that you were driving dies as a result of your negligent conduct, or a pedestrian was killed as a result of your negligent conduct.

What Constitutes a Vehicular Manslaughter Conviction?

To be convicted of a vehicular manslaughter charge under California Penal Code Section 192(c)3, the prosecution must prove all of the following:

1) While driving a vehicle, you committed a misdemeanor, infraction or otherwise lawful act in an unlawful manner

2) The misdemeanor, infraction or otherwise lawful act was dangerous to human life under the circumstances of its commission

3) You committed the misdemeanor, infraction or otherwise lawful act with ordinary negligence

4) The misdemeanor, infraction or otherwise lawful act caused the death of another person

Possible Defenses to a Vehicular Manslaughter Charge

To defend yourself from a vehicular manslaughter charge, you may argue:

  • Your actions were not negligent
  • Your actions were not the cause of death
  • You were not driving the vehicle

A charge of vehicular manslaughter depends on the facts of every individual case. Therefore, it is important to hire an experienced Wallin & Klarich attorney who will work with you to develop a strong defense based on the evidence in your case.

Punishment for Vehicular Manslaughter

Under California Penal Code Section 192(c), vehicular manslaughter can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony. Whether vehicular manslaughter is charged as a misdemeanor or felony depends on the facts in your individual case and your prior criminal history.

A misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter conviction is punishable by up to one year in county jail. A felony vehicular manslaughter conviction is punishable by two, four or six years in state prison. A vehicular manslaughter conviction can also result in the suspension of your driver’s license.

What Should I Do Next?

Criminal Attorneys
Wallin and Klarich Criminal Attorneys

If you or a loved one is facing a manslaughter charge, it is critical that you speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney. At Wallin & Klarich, our attorneys have over 40 years of experience in handling manslaughter charges in Southern California. Our attorneys will fight to get you the best possible outcome in your case.

With offices in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Tustin, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville, there is an experienced Wallin & Klarich Southern California criminal defense attorney near you no matter where you are located.

Call us today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free phone consultation. We will get through this together.


All of the information provided above was retrieved from the following sources:

1. http://law.onecle.com/california/penal/192.html
2. http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/displaycode?section=pen&group=00001-01000&file=187-199
3. Id.

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