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The difference between voluntary and involuntary manslaughter

When someone dies violently, the police typically spend a good deal of time investigating. The crime and the circumstances leading up to it become part of the investigation, and these factors all come together to form a complete picture. The type of charge you receive depends on the totality of the situation.

If you caused the death of someone without meaning to, you might receive a charge of manslaughter.

What is manslaughter?

Voluntary manslaughter under South Carolina law means one person caused another person's untimely death in some way. The death was not natural. Typically, people charged with manslaughter acted out of a moment of emotional turmoil. You may have heard of the term crime of passion. This is the basic premise of manslaughter. It is an act of murder that has no premeditation or preplanning. Receiving a manslaughter charge is dependent on your mindset in the moments preceding the act. If the other person provoked you purposely by ramping up your emotional state, it might wind up as manslaughter.

What makes it voluntary or involuntary?

Involuntary manslaughter is different. If you receive a charge of involuntary manslaughter, you caused the death of another person due to negligence. The best example of this is driving while intoxicated. If you cause an accident that results in a fatality, you may receive an involuntary manslaughter charge.

What is the difference in sentencing?

Manslaughter is a lesser crime than murder and typically carries a lighter sentence. The minimum time you may have to spend in jail if convicted is two years, although the maximum penalty may land you behind bars for 30 years.

Involuntary manslaughter is one degree down from this. If convicted of involuntary manslaughter in South Carolina, expect to spend up to five years in prison.

The police have to spend quite a bit of time sorting out the details to determine the charges they may file in a death case. Your state of mind and the circumstances at the time of the crime may mean the difference between spending a couple of years in jail or the rest of your life.

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William G. Yarborough Attorney at Law
522 N. Church St.
Greenville, SC 29601

Toll Free: 800-469-3658
Phone: 864-326-3026
Fax: 864-370-0022
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William G. Yarborough Attorney at Law