When people think of the word “homicide,” what probably comes to mind is intentionally killing someone else. However, the term “homicide” actually refers to a number of different crimes that involve taking the life of another human being. Among those crimes is the crime of “manslaughter,” which generally refers to the killing of another person without premeditated intent. In this way, it is slightly less serious than full-fledged murder. However, make no mistake – manslaughter is a very, very serious crime to be charged with.
If you or a loved one are charged with manslaughter around West Valley City, our lawyers are here to help. We have dedicated our practice to defending individuals accused of all kinds of crimes, and we can lend our expertise to defending you or a loved one against manslaughter charges. We will fight for your rights from the start of your case to the very end.
For a free, confidential analysis of your case, call Overson Law’s manslaughter defense lawyers at (801) 758-2287.
Manslaughter at Common Law and in Utah
“Murder” and “manslaughter” are two distinct crimes with different historical and current definitions.
The origin of the crime of manslaughter comes from something called “common law.” Common law is the body of law that is made through court decisions, not through statutes, and it dates back to before the founding of the United States. At common law, “manslaughter” refers to the killing of another human being that does not rise to the level of murder. There are two types of manslaughter at common law: voluntary manslaughter and involuntary manslaughter.
Voluntary manslaughter refers to killing someone either “in the heat of passion” or in response to “adequate provocation.” This language is fairly archaic and old-fashioned. The common example of “provocation” that would make murder manslaughter is someone finding their spouse in the act of being unfaithful and subsequently killing them in a rage.
Involuntary manslaughter, on the other hand, involves causing another person’s death through negligence. An example of this would be hitting and killing a child walking home from school because you were driving at 100 miles an hour.
Under Utah law, however, the terms “voluntary manslaughter” and “involuntary manslaughter” are not used in that form. Instead, there are crimes that match conduct similar to the forms of manslaughter at common law, which you can be charged with.
Manslaughter in West Valley City, UT
The crime of manslaughter in Utah is detailed under Utah Code § 76-5-205. The crime includes recklessly causing another person’s death, intentionally helping someone take their own life, or conduct that would be murder, under conditions listed in Utah Code § 76-5-203(4) that reduce culpability. Pretty much all of the conduct covered by the crime of manslaughter in Utah would fall under the common law definition of “voluntary manslaughter.”
“Reckless” conduct is defined in Utah under Utah Code § 76-2-103(3) as acts where the perpetrator knows about the risks but “consciously disregards” them. For example, playing Russian roulette would be a form of reckless conduct that could lead to manslaughter. The risk, obviously, is that someone gets shot in the head. Playing the “game” disregards the risk, and someone dying may lead to manslaughter charges.
Intentionally helping someone take their own life is also considered manslaughter, even though the perpetrator technically did not kill the person. For example, if someone tells the perpetrator they are thinking about suicide and the perpetrator gives them a bottle of dangerous medication, that could be considered manslaughter.
Finally, conduct that would be murder is reduced to manslaughter under the law if certain circumstances detailed in Utah Code § 76-5-203(4) are met. Those circumstances are that a reasonable person would think they had legal justification to take the victim’s life. For example, suppose the defendant, in the middle of the night, hears what they believe to be an intruder/burglar. Terrified, they grab a firearm and shoot the “burglar” dead, only to find that it was an unarmed person who thought they were in their own house. In that case, a jury may find that this is not justifiable self-defense/defense of home, but it was reasonable for the shooter to think it was. This is commonly called an “imperfect self-defense” claim.
Negligent Homicide in West Valley City, UT
Utah also has a crime called negligent homicide. This crime is similar to the crime of involuntary manslaughter at common law. Negligent Homicide is described in Utah Code § 76-5-206 as causing someone else’s death through “criminal negligence.” Criminal negligence is itself defined under Utah Code § 76-2-103(4) as conduct where the perpetrator should be aware of a “substantial and unjustifiable” risk that something bad could happen. In this case, “something bad” is another person getting killed. An example of conduct that can result in a negligent homicide charge would be leaving a young child in a locked car with no air conditioning in 100+ degree weather.
How Our Manslaughter Defense Attorneys Can Help You in West Valley City, UT
Facing murder manslaughter charges is incredibly frightening. It is critical that you retain legal counsel as soon as possible when faced with such charges.
Right off the bat, our lawyers can show up at the police station where you are being held after an arrest. This is a very important step to make sure that you do not say anything under duress or that is unfairly incriminating to your case. Second, we can work hard to gather as much evidence as possible to defend you in court. Finally, if it comes to it, we can argue your case before a jury and work towards getting you the best possible outcome for your situation.
Talk to Our West Valley City, UT Manslaughter Defense Lawyers Today
For a confidential, totally free case review, call Overson Law’s manslaughter defense lawyers at the number (801) 758-2287.