Manslaughter is a serious crime. It is the intentional killing of someone that does not necessarily rise to the level of murder. However, “not murder” is not a ringing endorsement. There are still incredibly severe penalties for manslaughter, including hefty fines and long prison sentences. Additionally, people you know may not want to associate with you and may think of you differently if you are convicted of manslaughter. Additionally, as a felony, manslaughter convictions can limit some of your rights, such as the ability to own firearms.
With so much at stake, you need experienced legal counsel. Our practice is dedicated to representing and defending people accused with crimes. We know how to handle manslaughter cases and how to work towards getting you the best possible outcome for you.
Call (801) 758-2287 and have the manslaughter defense lawyers from Overson Law analyze your case.
Manslaughter Crimes in Utah
There is only one crime in Utah specifically called “manslaughter.” However, the crime “manslaughter” in the Utah code is not the only thing that can be considered manslaughter. There are other crimes in Utah with different names that are similar enough to manslaughter that they are worth discussing here. All of these crimes are serious, and our lawyers can represent and defend you should you be accused of any of them.
Common Law Manslaughter
Murder and manslaughter are often used interchangeably in regular conversation. However, in law, they are two distinct crimes. This can be seen when the crimes are discussed using what is called “common law.” These are laws that are made through consistent precedent rather than codified statutes. Although states like Utah have their own legal code, common law is useful for understanding how certain legal systems work. In common law, manslaughter is broken down into voluntary and involuntary manslaughter. The term voluntary manslaughter covers the intentional killing of another person without prior planning and/or with “adequate provocation.” The classic example of adequate provocation is a spouse stumbling upon their lover cheating and then killing them.
Involuntary manslaughter, by contrast, refers to deaths caused by negligence. For example, wildly firing a gun into the distance and accidentally killing an innocent person would be considered involuntary manslaughter.
Manslaughter is defined in Utah Code § 76-5-205 as recklessly causing someone’s death, assisting with a suicide, or doing something that would otherwise be considered murder without certain mitigating circumstances being present. Those mitigating circumstances are laid out in Utah Code § 76-5-203(4).
Reckless conduct in Utah is defined under Utah Code § 76-2-103(3) as conduct where the actor knows but nevertheless “consciously disregards” a risk that someone can get hurt or killed by their conduct. Moreover, the act must be a “gross deviation” from normal, reasonable behavior. An example of something considered reckless conduct would be playing Russian roulette. Doing so would disregard the very real risk that someone ends up shot and killed. Another example of manslaughter under Utah law would be helping someone commit suicide. Suppose someone expresses to you a desire to kill themselves. If you then hand them a very sharp knife and say “do it,” you can be charged with manslaughter in Utah.
Pretty much all of the conduct covered by Utah manslaughter would fall under the common law definition of voluntary manslaughter.
Negligent Homicide is a crime in Utah detailed in Utah Code § 76-5-206. The crime entails causing another person’s death with “criminal negligence.” In Utah, the definition of criminal negligence can be found in Utah Code § 76-2-103(4) as acts where the actor should know that there is a “substantial” risk of serious injury or death because of their conduct. Essentially, a reasonable person would know that the conduct can get somebody badly hurt or killed, and the actor is doing it anyway. For example, suppose someone drives at 100 miles an hour, running multiple red lights, and strikes a pedestrian crossing the street, killing them. That conduct may get you charged with negligent homicide because a reasonable person would know that running red lights at 100mph is dangerous and could hurt somebody.
In common law, negligent homicide would be considered involuntary manslaughter. This is because, unlike with Utah Code manslaughter, negligent homicide does not require an intent to kill.
Ways Our Sandy, UT Manslaughter Defense Lawyers Can Assist You
When you are accused of manslaughter and facing serious criminal charges, you need to know exactly how our lawyers are going to help you.
The very first thing we will do is meet you at the jail, police station, or other location you are detained at to get a better idea of what is going on in your case. Getting a lawyer quickly after being arrested for manslaughter is very important because it protects against saying something that may be used against you in court later.
After that, we can both build a strong argument to use at trial, as well as work with the prosecution to see if a deal can be made. We may be able to get them to lower charges or drop them entirely, especially if we can present the prosecution with evidence that calls into question their legal theories or casts doubt on their arguments.
Finally, we can fight hard for you in court in front of a judge and jury. In the absolute worst-case scenario, where you lose in court, we can still continue to fight for you by working on an appeal. We will not give up and will exhaust every option when defending you against manslaughter charges in Utah.
Talk with Our Manslaughter Defense Attorneys from Sandy, UT
Do not hesitate to speak with our manslaughter defense attorneys from Overson Law about your case by calling us at (801) 758-2287.