Causing the death of another person is something you may never have imagined. Nevertheless, you are now facing criminal charges that could alter the rest of your life. Homicide is the general category for crimes that involve the taking of someone’s life. However, there are various levels of culpability, depending on your intent at the time of the event.
If authorities have charged you with manslaughter, it means that they do not believe you intended to cause the death of the other person. It is this intent that would likely result in charges of first- or second-degree murder, which could leave you facing decades in prison if a court convicts you. Nevertheless, manslaughter charges demand a solid and aggressive defense plan.
Understanding the charges
Your lack of desire to cause someone’s death, also known as malice, is likely what prompted prosecutors to file manslaughter charges instead of murder charges. Voluntary manslaughter is a first-degree offense, and it is typically an act of homicide that occurs in the heat of the moment. If you acted rashly at the height of passion, such as in a fit of jealousy or rage, prosecutors may charge you with first-degree manslaughter.
Involuntary manslaughter is a second-degree offense. A second-degree manslaughter charge involves the unintentional death of someone else while you are behaving recklessly or negligently. Most commonly, involuntary manslaughter charges follow when a driver impaired by drugs or alcohol causes an accident that results in someone else’s death.
An involuntary manslaughter charge may also result if you own an animal that you know is aggressive or violent and you neglect to take precautions to protect people from that animal. If your animal fatally injures someone who was careful to avoid provoking the animal, you may face second-degree manslaughter charges.
The penalties and your future
The penalties for involuntary manslaughter in Oklahoma can include incarceration in a state or county facility for as long as four years and a fine reaching $1,000. Additionally, despite the fact that manslaughter is a lesser charge than murder, it is still a felony. This means you may struggle for the rest of your life to overcome this mark on your record, including finding a job, securing housing, establishing credit and qualifying for certain federal benefits.
Fortunately, the burden of proof is on the prosecution, who must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you perpetrated the crime. The quality of your defense strategy will go a long way toward affecting the outcome of your case. With a skilled attorney on your side from the very beginning, you may improve your chances of a more positive outcome.