What is Voluntary Manslaughter?

The most serious criminal charges are the ones that involve the death of another person. An alleged homicide can lead to a murder charge which can carry life in prison or even the death penalty in Texas. However, not all criminal homicide cases result in murder charges. Manslaughter is a lesser—but still very serious—homicide charge. There are two categories of manslaughter — voluntary and involuntary. Here, our Fort Worth manslaughter defense attorney provides a comprehensive guide to voluntary manslaughter charges in Texas.

Texas Law: What is Manslaughter?

The broad definition of manslaughter is the killing of another person without malice, forethought, or other elements required for a murder charge. Under Texas state law (Texas Penal Code § 19.04), “a person commits an offense if he recklessly causes the death of an individual.” The crime of manslaughter is then divided into two subcategories:

  • Involuntary Manslaughter: Involuntary manslaughter occurs when a person recklessly causes the death of another without intended to do so. Most often, this occurs when they cause a death while committing another crime or when they cause a death through gross negligence.
  • Voluntary Manslaughter: Voluntary manslaughter is the intentional killing of another person without any malice or forethought. The most common example is when a person kills another within the “heat of passion.” Another example is one person kills another through unnecessarily forceful and/or unjustified self-defense.

To summarize, manslaughter occurs when a person recklessly causes the death of another person. The primary difference between voluntary manslaughter and the lesser charge of involuntary manslaughter is intent. With voluntary manslaughter, prosecutors must establish that the defendant intended to harm the deceased.

Voluntary Manslaughter is a Second-Degree Felony in Texas

Voluntary manslaughter is a very serious criminal offense. In Texas, voluntary manslaughter can be charged as a second-degree felony. A conviction for second-degree felony voluntary manslaughter in Texas carries maximum criminal penalties of a $10,000 fine and up to 20 years in prison. A person facing voluntary manslaughter charges in Tarrant County should consult with a top Fort Worth criminal defense lawyer who has experience handling violent felony charges as soon as possible.

Texas Has a Unique Law for Manslaughter Caused by Drunk Driving

In most states, a drunk driver who kills another person in an accident is charged with either voluntary manslaughter or involuntary manslaughter. However, in Texas, there is a specialized statute for these charges. In Texas, a drunk driver who causes a death can be arrested and charged with Intoxication Manslaughter (Intoxication Vehicular Manslaughter). This is a second-degree felony offense carrying between two and twenty years in prison and other criminal penalties.

Contact Our Fort Worth Voluntary Manslaughter Defense Lawyer Today

At The Law Office of Kyle Whitaker, our Fort Worth criminal defense attorney fights aggressively to protect the rights and future of clients. If you or your loved one was charged with voluntary manslaughter, we are more than ready to protect your rights. Contact us now for a confidential, no strings attached initial consultation. We provide criminal defense services throughout North Texas, including in Fort Worth, Arlington, Flower Mound, Mansfield, and Grapevine.

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Mary Hammons