Although people generally refer to the act of killing another person as
murder, it is important to understand that this is only one form of homicide.
Homicide is a blanket term that encompasses all intentional and unintentional
acts of killing—including
murder, manslaughter (voluntary and involuntary) as well as different classes
of vehicular manslaughter —so these terms cannot be used interchangeably.
According to California Code §187(a), murder is defined as the unlawful
killing of a human being or fetus with malice aforethought. First-degree
murder is accomplished via "felony murder," or when committed
with premeditation and deliberation. Second degree murder is either intentional
murder or murder with conscious disregard for human life.
Voluntary Manslaughter is committed when an intentional killing occurs—either
in the heat of passion or as a result of objectively reasonable provocation.
The law holds a killing committed during "the heat of passion"
or as a result of objectively reasonable provocation is a manslaughter,
because these two conditions negate "malice aforethought" required
It is important to understand, however, that there are two different forms
of manslaughter: voluntary and involuntary. Involuntary manslaughter involves
the unintentional killing of another person, without an available defense
such as non-negligent accident or mistake of fact.
According to California Code §192(b), one could be guilty with involuntary
manslaughter if they have unintentionally caused the death of a human
being during the commission of a) an unlawful act not amounting to a felony
or b) a lawful act that involves a high risk of death or great bodily
harm. Under these circumstances, malice aforethought would not exist—thus
resulting in a less serious charge and sentence than murder. Even so,
both forms of manslaughter are still charged as felonies in California.
This means that the penalties associated with a conviction would be quite
severe, despite the fact that they would be less serious than those associated
with a murder conviction. Under the law, sentencing could be ordered as follows:
- Murder in the First Degree – 25 years to life in state prison
- Murder in the Second Degree – 15 years to life in state prison
- Voluntary Manslaughter – 3, 6 or 11 years in state prison
- Involuntary Manslaughter – 2, 3 or 4 years in state prison
If you or someone you love has been charged with any of the aforementioned
offenses in California, it is imperative that you get in touch with a
Solano County criminal defense lawyer today. Not only could you be facing hard time behind bars, but you may
also be at risk of acquiring a strike on your criminal record. For this
reason, the legal team at Maas Law Offices encourages you to contact our
firm today. Call at (800) 483-0992 or submit a
free case evaluation form online to get started.