California Voluntary Manslaughter Penal Code 192(a) PC
At Wallin & Klarich, we field calls on a regular basis in regard to California voluntary manslaughter laws. Here are the answers to some of the most common questions we receive.
How is voluntary manslaughter different from murder?
The California Penal Code defines murder as “the unlawful killing of a human being, or fetus, with malice aforethought” (Section 187 PC). On the other hand, the Code defines manslaughter as “the unlawful killing of a human being without malice,” and California voluntary manslaughter as the killing of a human being “upon a sudden quarrel or heat of passion” (Sections 192 & 192(a)).
While a murder conviction can result in life in state prison, California voluntary manslaughter carries with it a maximum penalty of 11 years in state prison.
What qualifies as provocation that can cause a reasonable person to act in the heat of passion?
There really is no concrete definition of what qualifies as a provocation. Courts, however, view some scenarios where the killing of a person can be considered voluntary manslaughter. These scenarios include catching a spouse in the act of being unfaithful, seeing a family member murdered, or being the victim of an unprovoked physical attack. Acts such as simple trespass, name-calling, or believing a family member has been abused are not normally considered sufficient provocation to be characterized as voluntary manslaughter.
If a murder charge can be reduced to voluntary manslaughter, what can California voluntary manslaughter be reduced to?
There is no such thing as “reducing” voluntary manslaughter to involuntary manslaughter; this is a common belief that many people mistakenly have. Involuntary manslaughter is a related offense – not a lesser offense. Instead, a voluntary manslaughter charge can be reduced to an attempted voluntary manslaughter charge.
Are there other ways for me to be charged with voluntary manslaughter in California?
Yes. Voluntary manslaughter laws in California allow a person to face this charge if he or she kills someone in self-defense – or the defense of others – but the killing is not considered entirely justified. For example, if you killed someone believing that you were in serious danger of being severely hurt or killed, and the court finds your belief was unreasonable, you can be prosecuted for voluntary manslaughter. This is a form of voluntary manslaughter known as the “imperfect self-defense.”
Can I be charged with California voluntary manslaughter for the death of a fetus?
A person cannot be charged with voluntary manslaughter in this instance, because manslaughter does not apply to the death of a fetus. While the killing of a fetus is found in the definition of murder in California Penal Code Section 187 (“Murder is the unlawful killing of a human being, or a fetus, with malice aforethought.”), manslaughter is defined as the “unlawful killing of a human being.” Nowhere in any section of the Penal Code that pertains to manslaughter is the term “fetus” used.
Place Your Trust in Wallin & Klarich
If you are facing charges of voluntary manslaughter in California, you need a strong representation to fight for your rights and freedom. For over 40 years, our attorneys at Wallin & Klarich have defended clients facing all types of homicide, manslaughter and vehicular homicide charges in California. With office in Orange County, Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, Ventura, Victorville and West Covina, Wallin & Klarich will be there with you when you call.
For a free phone consultation, call (877) 4-NO-JAIL or fill out our confidential client information form. We will get through this together.