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Understanding the degrees of manslaughter

| May 22, 2016 | Criminal Defense

While many states discuss manslaughter as being either voluntary or involuntary, in New York, the classification of manslaughter is done in degrees. What is considered to be involuntary manslaughter in some locations is second-degree manslaughter in New York. What is voluntary manslaughter elsewhere is first-degree manslaughter in our courts. Regardless of the terminology, what differentiates the two types of manslaughter remains essentially the same.

If a homicide falls into either of the following three categories, it should warrant a second-degree manslaughter charge. If someone assists in a suicide, attempts an abortional action against or upon a woman that kills her, or a person engages in reckless actions that cause another person to die. In terms of recklessness, prosecutors would need to demonstrate that the accused showed an awareness of the inherent danger or knew of the possibility of harm and still showed a blatant disregard for caution, thereby acting drastically outside of the norm.

There are four standards for which a death would be classified as a first-degree charge of manslaughter. This charge is contingent upon a prosecutor proving the intent to harm was there at the time of the act that resulted in a death. If a person is at least 18 years old and kills a child who is under 11 years of age, and did so with an intent to harm the child physically, this may be a case for first-degree manslaughter. If an abortional act kills a woman who was 24 weeks or further into her pregnancy, this could result in a first-degree manslaughter charge. Or if the accused intends to harm a person and it results in death instead or death of another, it’s first-degree. Finally, if the accused is so emotionally disturbed that the disturbance influences a malicious behavior intending to cause a person to lose his or her life, this would be a case for first-degree manslaughter.

Understanding the charges brought against you can best be determined with the help of a New York homicide attorney who can review the circumstances and allegations and from there determine whether such defenses as mental illness, acting in protection of another person or yourself or whether your age could aid in the reduction or elimination of the charges. This is a time when you will need an attorney who will go to work for you.