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What is Voluntary Manslaughter in Maryland?

voluntary manslaughter

When an individual has been connected with a homicide in Maryland, they face serious trouble. They are looking at prison time, which can completely change their life. And while manslaughter charges are less severe than murder, there are still severe penalties.

Manslaughter laws can be complex, but it’s important for someone facing these charges to understand the laws. This article will discuss voluntary manslaughter, how it differs from involuntary manslaughter, its legalities, and the potential consequences one may face if found guilty of the charge.

What is Voluntary Manslaughter?

While murder typically involves premeditation, voluntary manslaughter involves the unlawful killing of someone “in the heat of the moment.” It often responds to adequate provocation, extreme emotions, or a perceived threat.

Adequate provocation means actions or circumstances that cause a reasonable person to lose control of their emotions and act impulsively. An example would be to come home to find your spouse in bed with another person. This could send you into a rage that would result in the killing of one or both of them.

Another example would be if you were confronted on the street by someone who required that you defend yourself. You may have used deadly force because you feared for your life if you didn’t. And even if that belief was unreasonable, you honestly believed it was accurate at the time.

Voluntary manslaughter is addressed in the Maryland Criminal Law Code, Section 2-207. This statute outlines the circumstances in which one may be charged with voluntary manslaughter and the penalties one faces if charged with this offense.

Voluntary Manslaughter vs Involuntary Manslaughter

Voluntary manslaughter means that the death of another person included the presence of something that reduced the guilt level from murder. Involuntary manslaughter, on the other hand, is referred to as negligent homicide and is defined as accidentally killing another person due to reckless behavior. An example of involuntary manslaughter is vehicular homicide.

Legalities and Penalties of Voluntary Manslaughter in Maryland

In Maryland, voluntary manslaughter is classified as a felony offense. Those convicted of voluntary manslaughter face severe penalties that can include significant fines and lengthy prison sentences. The exact penalties will be determined based on the circumstances of the case, the defendant’s criminal history, and other factors the court considers.

Under Maryland law, the maximum penalty for voluntary manslaughter is up to ten years in prison. However, if certain factors are present, such as the use of a deadly weapon or if the victim is considered a vulnerable individual, the defendant may face harsher penalties, including a longer prison sentence.

In addition to prison time, if convicted of involuntary manslaughter, you may also be required to pay restitution to the victim’s family and undergo probation or parole upon release from prison. A voluntary manslaughter conviction can also have consequences, such as:

  • Having difficulty finding employment
  • Being unable to secure housing
  • Inability to obtain professional licenses

Legal Defenses to Involuntary Manslaughter Charges

If you’re facing voluntary manslaughter charges, you have the right to defend yourself in court. There are several defenses available to you. Some of these include:

  • Self-Defense — If you acted in self-defense or to defend others, you can argue that your actions were justified because of the circumstances. However, the force used must be reasonable and comparable to your threat.
  • Insanity — You can assert an insanity defense and claim that you were not of sound mind at the time of the defense and, as a result, are not criminally responsible for your actions. It can be challenging to prove an insanity defense and will typically require expert testimony and evidence.
  • Accident — Arguing the death was the result of an accident rather than intentional may be applicable if the death occurred during a lawful activity or if you didn’t intend to harm the victim.

How a Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help

With your freedom on the line, you need to ensure that your legal rights are protected. A qualified criminal defense attorney can help you fight manslaughter charges. The sooner you contact an attorney, the better. They can break down the prosecution’s case, utilize an extensive network of experts, and advocate to protect your future. 

Turn to Jeremy Widder Law if You’re Facing Voluntary Manslaughter Charges

Voluntary manslaughter is a serious crime and carries significant legal and personal consequences in Maryland. Because of the penalties one can face from a voluntary manslaughter conviction, seeking representation from an experienced criminal defense attorney is imperative.

At Jeremy Widder Law, we can help you navigate the legal process, protect your rights, and advocate for the best possible outcome in your case. Our firm has years of trial experience focused on criminal defense. We have represented hundreds of clients facing charges of offenses ranging from DUI to murder, and we won’t let you go unheard.

Contact us today for a consultation.

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