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If you were to kill another person without any kind of premeditation or if you were acting in the heat of the moment, then you’ll usually discover that you’re treated a bit differently in court than if you were to plan the entire killing. The act of killing someone else without premeditation and that is a result of an emotion that causes you to commit the act is considered voluntary manslaughter instead of murder. This is still a serious crime, but if you have an attorney on your side, there are options that you could have when you go to court.
There are a few details to keep in mind about voluntary manslaughter so that you know the difference between this crime and murder. If you kill another person because of actions demonstrated by the victim that resulted in making the decision to kill that person, then you could be charged with manslaughter. You could also be charged with voluntary manslaughter if you intended to kill another person but killed someone else instead.
One component that makes voluntary manslaughter stand out from similar crimes is that you were not defending yourself when the crime occurred. However, you were not capable of making a rational thought about the consequences and the action that you were committing at the time you killed the other person. There was an emotion overtaking you at the time, causing you to commit the crime. The emotion could range from fear, anger, or even extreme sadness as almost any kind of intense emotion can sometimes lead to an act that you can’t control.
Another detail that you’ll talk to your attorney about is whether you felt that the killing was justified at the time. You will discuss whether or not you would feel that you were justified in killing another person if the time were to arise again, which is a factor that the court will look at when you are tried and sentenced.
If you are charged with voluntary manslaughter, you need to remember that this is usually considered a first-degree felony. If you’re convicted in court, then you could face up to 20 years in prison depending on the evidence against you and the details surrounding the crime. This is why it’s important to speak with an attorney who can inform you of the rights that you have as well as the possible outcomes and defenses that could be used in court.
After being arrested for the crime, cooperate as much as possible with the officer who is in charge of the investigation. You’ll be taken to your local jail or courthouse and booked. An overnight stay in jail is common as many bail bondsmen won’t sign the release for this type of crime. This is when you need to contact an attorney or have a family member or friend contact an attorney for you. Do not talk about the details of what happened with the officers. Instead, wait until you have an attorney present who can advise you of what to say and what not to answer.
There are a few ways that an attorney can help if you’re charged with voluntary manslaughter. One way is to try to get the evidence that is against you discredited and thrown out of court so that you aren’t convicted. Your lawyer will listen to the details surrounding the crime to better determine how to prepare a defense as there are times that you could negotiate with the prosecution for a lesser charge or a lesser sentence if you plead guilty. Your attorney will also gather details to try to show that the crime was committed during an act of self-defense instead of the heat of the moment.