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Understanding manslaughter charges

Not all deaths with the potential of criminal charges are intentional. In fact, many fatalities in Colorado and elsewhere can land a person with criminal penalties, despite the death being accidental or due to the “heat of passion.” People who are facing manslaughter charges for the death of another may face life-altering consequences, including heavy fines and a lengthy prison sentence. It is important to understand what exactly manslaughter entails.

According to FindLaw, manslaughter differs from murder, in that the death was not intentional or planned, but is still unlawful. Involuntary manslaughter pertains to the unintentional death of someone during a lawful act or unlawful nonfelony act involving reckless or negligent activity, such as the following:

  • During a hunting trip, a friend accidentally shoots and kills another friend while trespassing on private property.
  • An illegal drag race results in a crash that kills a passenger.
  • A driver hits a pedestrian while texting and driving.

Voluntary manslaughter, on the other hand, involves a death due to an unpremeditated but intentional act. Often, a person accused of voluntary manslaughter lost control of his or her temper, as in the following examples:

  • A man walks in on his wife cheating and attacks the other man, accidentally killing him.
  • A group of friends drinking together get into an argument, and one pulls a knife and attacks his other friend.
  • A driver retaliates after being cut off in traffic and runs the other driver off the road, causing a fatal accident.

Criminal charges resulting from a fatality are serious, whether the charges involve involuntary or voluntary manslaughter or a more severe homicide charge. The law entitles individuals to a competent defense regardless of the circumstances that surrounded the incident.

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