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Penalties for Involuntary and Voluntary Manslaughter Crimes in Virginia

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voluntary manslaughter virginiaIf you’re accused of involuntary or voluntary manslaughter in Virginia, you’re facing severe felony charges. Conviction could mean substantial prison time and hefty fines. Yet, with the guidance of a skilled criminal defense lawyer, you might pursue avenues to have the charges dropped or reduced to a lesser offense.

Virginia Voluntary Manslaughter

In Virginia, unlike many other states, the definitions of voluntary and involuntary manslaughter are established through case law rather than statutory law. This distinction is often characterized as crimes committed in the heat of passion.

Voluntary manslaughter, under Virginia’s legal framework, involves the unlawful killing of another person without malice. The act must be intentional but unplanned for it to constitute this offense. This charge typically arises when a person kills another in the throes of provocation or intense emotional reaction. Instances where individuals might face charges of voluntary manslaughter include:

  • Engaging in an unexpected altercation that results in death.
  • Discovering a spouse with another individual and reacting with lethal force in a fit of anger.
  • Enduring domestic conflict or abuse from a partner at the time of the incident.
  • Acting in self-defense but deemed to have responded excessively in causing the death of the attacker.

Virginia Involuntary and Aggravated Involuntary Manslaughter

According to our state’s legal precedents, involuntary manslaughter is described as the unintentional killing of another person. This act must occur during either an unlawful, but not felonious, act or a lawful act performed negligently. Examples of situations where someone might face involuntary manslaughter charges include:

  • Firing a weapon into a crowded area, resulting in someone’s death.
  • Mistaking the accelerator for the brake pedal caused a fatal accident.
  • Causing a death while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, which often leads to involuntary manslaughter charges.

Moreover, if the accused’s behavior is deemed “so disgustingly reckless and morally blameworthy as to exhibit a callous disregard for human life,” they may face aggravated manslaughter charges.

Punishments for Voluntary and Involuntary Manslaughter

Because voluntary and involuntary manslaughter constitute violent offenses, they face severe repercussions in our jurisdiction. Both offenses are classified as Class 5 felonies, albeit with nuanced differences in sentencing. Convicted individuals face the following potential penalties:

Voluntary Manslaughter: Those found guilty of voluntary manslaughter face imprisonment ranging from one to 10 years, coupled with a fine of up to $2,500. However, the presiding judge retains the authority to impose a jail term of less than one year instead of incarceration.

Involuntary Manslaughter: The punishment mirrors that of voluntary manslaughter, except for the absence of a minimum one-year prison term.

Manslaughter While Intoxicated: If a person is found guilty of involuntary manslaughter while operating a vehicle under the influence, additional sanctions may include license suspension & mandatory participation in an alcohol safety program, in addition to other possible penalties.

Aggravated Involuntary Manslaughter: Conviction for aggravated involuntary manslaughter carries significantly harsher consequences. Convicted individuals must serve a minimum sentence of one year as required by law, extendable to a maximum of 20 years in prison.

Contact Our Skilled Criminal Defense Attorneys Today!

Are you or someone you care about facing voluntary, involuntary, or aggravated involuntary manslaughter charges in Virginia? Even if you feel you’re at fault, robust defenses might be available that could lead to the dismissal or reduction of these charges.

Our seasoned criminal defense lawyers stand prepared to guide you through your legal journey and devise a vigorous defense strategy to pursue the most favorable outcome. Call our Fairfax office today at (703) 988 3711 to schedule a free consultation to discover how our services can benefit you.

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