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Manslaughter by the numbers: voluntary vs involuntary

| May 28, 2020 | Criminal Defense

Any case that involves a death requires patience and diligence to unravel. Intent and methods can be the difference between murder and manslaughter. But even in the case of manslaughter, degrees of negligence and reckless behavior can tip the needle.

As the Florida Department of Law Enforcement reports, 2018 saw 71 cases of negligent manslaughter. Though this does not include the figures for aggravated manslaughter, it shows what varied circumstances the charge encompasses.

Voluntary Manslaughter

This charge is a matter of passion. The homicide in question cannot meet the definition of murder (absence proof of premeditation, for example), but can involve parties that intended to kill someone by way of some sudden provocation. Voluntary manslaughter in Florida carries a minimum sentence of nine and one-quarter years if convicted. It is a second-degree felony unless exacerbating circumstances such as the inclusion of a firearm or if the charge becomes aggravated manslaughter, in which case the charge is a first-degree felony.

Involuntary Manslaughter

As FindLaw summarizes, involuntary manslaughter cases in Florida involve homicides that resulted from “culpable negligence”. Recklessness, lack of care or excessive force in self-defense may all result in a charge like this. Involuntary manslaughter carries similar sentences to voluntary but may not involve a mandatory minimum:

  • Up to a $10,000 fine
  • Up to 15 years probation
  • Up to 15 years of prison time

Aggravated manslaughter, even involuntary, can bump these maximums up to 30 years.

Defense strategies

If there is proof that a defendant’s self-defense methods were not excessive or if the death was an accident, there is a chance for little or limited sentencing. Anyone in this situation should learn more and possibly contact an attorney.