Manslaughter

Attorney Richard M. Oberto brings has a wealth of experience taking complicated cases to trial, presenting forensic evidence to a jury, and achieving the best outcomes for clients. He is well-suited to assist clients are defending against Manslaughter allegations or who are using the doctrine of Manslaughter as a defense to Murder.

Voluntary, Involuntary, and Vehicular Manslaughter

There are three general types of Manslaughter: Voluntary, Involuntary, and Vehicular. Manslaughter always requires proof of an unlawful killing. A killing is unlawful when it was committed without any legal justification or excuse.

Voluntary Manslaughter (Penal Code section 192(a)) requires proof of intentional wrongdoing. It requires that the accused person acted with a state of mind equivalent to the Malice Aforethought required for Murder. The law defines Voluntary Manslaughter as a lesser included offense of Murder. It requires that a Murder charge be reduced to Voluntary Manslaughter in certain circumstances where an accused person acted in imperfect self-defense, imperfect defense of another, or upon a sudden quarrel or in the heat of passion.

Involuntary Manslaughter (Penal Code section 192(b)) requires proof of criminal negligence. In contrast to Voluntary Manslaughter, it does not require an intent to kill or a conscious disregard for human life. “Criminal negligence” means that a person acted recklessly and caused a high risk of death or great bodily injury for others, but was not conscious of his recklessness and the risk he caused. In cases where a person is charged with Voluntary Manslaughter but committed only Involuntary Manslaughter, the charge must be reduced to the lesser offense.

The proof requirements for Vehicular Manslaughter depend on the specific charge. Gross Vehicular Manslaughter (Penal Code section 192(c)(1)) requires proof that the accused person acted with criminal negligence. Misdemeanor Vehicular Manslaughter (Penal Code section 192(c)(2)) requires only Ordinary Negligence.

Punishments for Manslaughter

Voluntary and Involuntary Manslaughter offenses are charged as felonies and carry substantial potential prison terms. Voluntary Manslaughter carries a maximum prison term of three, six, or eleven years. Involuntary Manslaughter carries a maximum imprisonment term of two, three, or four years.

Vehicular Manslaughter includes a range of offenses, some of which are felonies and some misdemeanors. Gross Vehicular Manslaughter is a “wobbler” offense, which means it can be charged as a felony or misdemeanor. As a felony, the offense carries a maximum imprisonment term of two, four, or six years. The accused person may be eligible for probation and a suspended sentence and may apply to the court for reduction to a misdemeanor. Misdemeanor Vehicular Manslaughter is punishable by up to one year in the county jail.

Punishments for Manslaughter offenses include substantial fines in addition to imprisonment. A Vehicular Manslaughter conviction can result in long-term loss of one's Driver's License and driving privilege.

Justifiable and Excusable Homicide

A person is not guilty of Manslaughter if he committed a Justifiable or Excusable Homicide. The doctrines of Justifiable Homicide define the circumstances where a person may use deadly force to protect himself or someone else. The doctrines of Excusable Homicide define the circumstances where a homicide is considered an accident and not a crime.

Imperfect Self-Defense or Defense of Another

A person is entitled to have a Murder charge reduced to Voluntary Manslaughter when he acted in Imperfect Self-Defense or Defense of Another. The term “imperfect” means that the person (a) believed he was in immediate danger of being killed or suffering great bodily injury and (b) believed the immediate use of deadly force was necessary to defend himself, but that one of those beliefs was unreasonable.

Heat of Passion

A person is also entitled to have a Murder charge reduced to Voluntary Manslaughter when he acted upon a sudden quarrel or in the heat of passion. The accused person must have been provoked, causing him to act rashly and under the influence of intense emotion that obscured his reasoning or judgment. The provocation must have been sufficient so that an average person also would have acted rashly and without due deliberation. The law does not require that an average person would have committed a homicide. It only requires that an average person also would have felt provoked and acted from passion rather than judgment.

Experienced Legal Representation

Whether a person is defending against manslaughter allegations or seeking reduction of a murder allegation to voluntary manslaughter, Mr. Oberto ensures that every client receives the best legal representation. He gets to the bottom of the facts, consults the appropriate experts, and ensures that clients receive the finest courtroom advocacy.

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Mr. Oberto welcomes people to contact him 24/7 at (559) 221-2557 to request an initial consultation. Se habla Espanol.

People also may contact Mr. Oberto to request an initial consultation using the contact form available on this website. Please do not use the contact form to write down sensitive information. Information communicated over the internet, including through this website, may not be considered confidential or privileged.

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