Involuntary manslaughter, voluntary manslaughter and murder: What’s the difference?

| Jan 7, 2021 | Criminal charges

When someone dies in a violent event, the charges against the other party or parties involved may not always be immediately clear.

Instead, prosecutors may charge a defendant with, including voluntary or involuntary manslaughter. Understanding the difference between the two may help you in building a defense strategy in your case.

How voluntary and involuntary manslaughter differ

Involuntary manslaughter is usually the charge applied when someone doesn’t set out to kill someone — or even injure them. For example, a drunk driver may be charged with involuntary manslaughter after causing a fatal accident

Voluntary manslaughter charges imply that someone’s violent actions were intentional — but not premeditated or planned. For example, if someone picks up a heavy glass mug and slams it over the head of another person in a bar fight, killing them, that may result in voluntary manslaughter charges.

How manslaughter and murder charges differ

Various factors distinguish manslaughter from murder charges. A defendant is likely to face the latter charges if prosecutors can prove that they took time to plan their actions. It’s also expected for prosecutors to charge a defendant with murder instead of manslaughter in instances in which a defendant committed another violent crime in conjunction with taking someone else’s life, including robbery or kidnapping. 

If you’re facing either manslaughter or murder charges, you’re in big trouble. You owe it to yourself to find an attorney who will take time to understand the steps leading up to your alleged crime. That lawyer will need to be proactive in advocating for you in an Atlantic City courtroom if you want to achieve the best outcome possible in your New Jersey case.