homicide involuntary manslaughter in California

Under California law, homicide is the unlawful killing of a human being. It may result in a criminal charge of murder or manslaughter. In order to find a defendant guilty of murder, it has to be proven that the person acted with “malice aforethought.” Without “malice aforethought” the offender can be charged only with manslaughter. Thus, the main difference between murder and manslaughter is in the state of the mind of the offender.

1.   California Manslaughter Laws

2.   Involuntary Manslaughter in California

3.   Legal Defenses to California Involuntary Manslaughter

4.   Punishment for California Involuntary Manslaughter

5.   Related Offences

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1.   California Manslaughter Laws 

In California, there are three types of manslaughter: voluntary, involuntary, and vehicular.

2.   Voluntary Manslaughter in California 

Involuntary manslaughter is defined as an unlawful killing which had not the intent to kill and the conscious disregard for human life was absent.

The main difference between two types of manslaughter(voluntary and involuntary) is whether the offender knows that there is risk for life and how he or she acts by creating consciously disregard for that risk. If the fact of endangering the life of another person was wilful, the offender would be charged with murder or voluntary manslaughter.

Generally speaking, involuntary manslaughter is:

–     an unlawful killing

–     it results from a willful act

–     there were not intent to kill and  conscious disregard of another’s life.

Thus, in order to find a person guilty of an involuntary manslaughter it has to be proven that:

–     committed  crime contained a high risk of death or great bodily injury of another person

–     it was committed in a lawful way, but the defendant showed criminal negligence or without due caution and circumspection


–     it was committed in an unlawful act not amounting to felony(misdemeanor or infraction)

–     the acts of the defendant caused the death of another person.

In order to understand better the main terms of the definition, we invite you to clarify them below.

Criminal negligence means more than ordinary carelessness, inattention, or mistake in judgment. Acting with criminal negligence means:

–     the defendant  acted in a reckless way with a high risk of death or great bodily injury

–     any reasonable person would have known that acting in that way would create such a risk.

An act causes death if it is the consequence of the direct, natural, and probable act and the death would not have happened without the act. It can happen that there is more than one cause of the death. Nonetheless, it should be noted that trivial and remote facts cannot be considered as substantial factors of causing death. In order to be the cause of the death, it should be the only factor which affected on the situation in the most serious way. Related to great bodily injury, it means significant or substantial physical injury.

The prosecution has the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant acted with intent to kill or with conscious disregard for human life in order to prove murder or manslaughter. If the jury agrees that the defendant is not guilty of murder or voluntary manslaughter, but they all agree the prosecutor has proved that the defendant is guilty of involuntary manslaughter, there are two things to do. Firstly, it has to be completed the verdict forms stating that the defendant is not guilty of first degree murder, second degree murder, and voluntary manslaughter. Secondly, complete the verdict form stating that he or she is guilty of involuntary manslaughter.

3.   Defenses to California Voluntary Manslaughter

An experienced and professional California defense attorney can use various legal defenses in order to dismiss the involuntary manslaughter charge. Below, we represent some of them.

–     Self-Defense

–     The state of insanity

–     False confessions

–     Illegal search or seizure

–     Etc.

4.   Punishment for California Manslaughter 

Under Penal Code 192 PC, California’s involuntary manslaughter law is a felony.  The convicted can be subjected to the following penalties for having committed involuntary manslaughter:

–     formal probation with up to one year county jail,

–     sentence of a two (2), three (3), or four (4) years in state prison.

Moreover, the court may impose additional penalties in the following cases:

–     the loss of the right to own or possess a firearm

–     a fine up to $10000.

5.   Related Offences

–     Murder

–     Attempted Murder

–     Voluntary Manslaughter

–     Involuntary Manslaughter

The Margarian Law Firm aggressively protects the rights of criminal defendants in California. There are always defenses that can help you avoid penalties. Moreover, sometimes a person can be innocent and, notwithstanding all circumstances, be accused of committing a crime by mistake.  We will evaluate your case and engage as fast as possible in your defense for trial. Do not hesitate to contact us. We will do our best to get the best possible outcome for You!

You may file your request online, by telephone or by mail. 818-553-1000

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