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Manslaughter Just Because You’ve Been Charged With a Crime, Doesn’t Mean You Can’t Defend Yourself

Manslaughter Defense Lawyer in New York

Manslaughter refers to the killing of a person, but falls short of the more serious charge of murder. There are two general classifications of manslaughter, though in New York each one has several different legal applications.

Voluntary manslaughter usually means the suspect had no prior intent to kill the victim at the time of the homicide. “In the heat of passion” or “without malice or forethought,” legally describes the circumstances behind voluntary manslaughter. Involuntary manslaughter, on the other hand, refers to the unintentional death of another person by way of the suspect’s reckless actions, negligence, or criminal activity. Some examples of involuntary manslaughter can include texting while driving, using (or sharing) dangerous drugs, and unlawful discharge of a firearm.

The Following Is a General Breakdown of New York’s Manslaughter Charges

Manslaughter in the First Degree [NYPL §125.20] is the most serious of the manslaughter charges. It is charged when the evidence indicates that the suspect intended to cause serious physical injury to another, and that injury resulted in the victim’s death. New York Penal Code classifies it as a class B violent felony with a maximum prison sentence of 25 years.

Manslaughter investigations and prosecutions are very serious. This is why you must seek the protection of an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately if you have been charged with, or are being investigated for, any homicide-related crime.

Aggravated First Degree Manslaughter [NYPL §125.22] is an elevated manslaughter charge made even more serious (classified as “aggravated”) due to either of the following factors:

  • The suspect intended to cause serious physical injury to a police officer or peace officer while they were engaged in their official duties, which caused the death of the officer AND the suspect reasonably should have known that the victim was a law enforcement officer; or
  • The suspect intended to cause the death of the law enforcement officer; the defendant then caused the death of the peace officer BUT at the time was “under the influence of extreme emotional disturbance.”

Aggravated manslaughter in the first degree is a class B violent felony, punishable by a minimum prison sentence of five years and a maximum of 25 years.

Manslaughter in the Second Degree [NYPL §125.15]. This is a class C felony which carries a minimum prison sentence of one to three years and a maximum of five to 15 years. Second degree manslaughter happens when the suspect continues with a reckless act that they knew they were committing, and they consciously disregarded the potentially fatal risks to the victim that a reasonable person would not ignore. Even though this crime lacks “overt” intent on the part of the suspect, conviction relies on the prosecution’s being able to convince the jury that the suspect was legally aware that his or her actions could cause serious or fatal injury to the victim.

Many times, second degree manslaughter is a “deal down” crime for those who are accused of second degree murder, where the prosecution might not have a strong enough murder case but the offense still falls within the purview of the lesser Class C second degree manslaughter felony and its lower sentence guidelines.

Aggravated Second Degree Manslaughter [NYPL §125.21] occurs when the suspect accidentally – yet still recklessly – causes the death of a law enforcement official or peace officer while performing their duty, but with no intent by the suspect to cause harm. In a sense, only the suspect’s careless act caused the law enforcement officer’s death. It is considered a class C violent felony, with a minimum sentence of 3 ½ years, and a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.

Criminally Negligent Homicide [NYPL §125.10] is often referred to as involuntary manslaughter. It is a class E felony punishable by up to four years in prison. Examples of this crime include situations involving the death of a child from parental or caregiver neglect. It is defined as a homicide that happens due to circumstances where a reasonable person would recognize the danger to the victim. Killings caused by this are unintentional, due to either criminal negligence or recklessness.

Aggravated Criminally Negligent Homicide [NYPL §125.11] is an elevated negligent homicide charge, which is made more serious because the suspect causes the death of a police officer or peace officer while they were engaged in their official duties AND the suspect reasonably should have known that the victim was a law enforcement officer. It is a class C violent felony, punishable by a minimum sentence of 3 ½ years, and a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.

Vehicular Homicide Crimes

Vehicular Manslaughter in the Second Degree [NYPL §125.12] is charged to those who drive a motor vehicle while intoxicated (BAC .08 or higher) or while under the influence of drugs and, as a result of their actions, caused the death of another person. It is a class C felony, punishable by a prison sentence up to 15 years in prison.

Vehicular Manslaughter in the First Degree [NYPL §125.13]. Suspects of this crime are charged with this when they were driving a vehicle with a blood alcohol level of .18 or higher and/or caused the death of more than one person (but their intoxication level was less than .18). This is a class C felony offense, punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

The Law Office of Michael D. Litman faithfully and aggressively represents the criminal defense needs of the citizens of White Plains, Westchester County and the New York Metro area. We have the knowledge and experience to provide you with premium criminal defense representation.

Please contact us to arrange a consultation, or call us at (914) 268-6855. We will work with you from arraignment all the way through trial.

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