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Understanding manslaughter defense options

| Jun 12, 2020 | Firm News |

Texas law defines manslaughter beneath a fairly wide umbrella, which includes specific types of the charge. In some cases, a manslaughter charge can be successfully defended and proven to have been the result of extreme circumstances.

The two main types include voluntary and involuntary manslaughter. Penalties for manslaughter can involve years in prison and thousands of dollars in fines. If you’re being charged with manslaughter, you’ll have to provide a defense that falls within the scope of state laws and definitions. There are several viable arguments to make in court.

The main defenses to manslaughter in Texas include acting in the heat of the moment under intense emotions, self-defense, and insanity. It’s also possible to seek total innocence in some cases.

What actions may carry a manslaughter charge?

The following are a few possible scenarios where you could find yourself charged with manslaughter:

  • You struck and killed someone with your vehicle – intoxication and reckless driving are commonly attributed in a car collision death.
  • Your negligence resulted in someone else’s death – if you accidentally shoot someone, for example, you could be implicated for involuntary manslaughter.
  • You were protecting yourself from an attack – this scenario might apply if you were engaged in a fight and another person involved in the altercation dies.

Although there are numerous other possible scenarios, these are three common ones that may result a charge of manslaughter, which can sometimes be reduced or dropped based on the defense you’re able to provide.

Examples of defenses against manslaughter

In a case where you’re acting under the heat of a moment, the court might determine that you were flooded with an emotion like fear or rage due to extreme circumstances.

Self-defense is slightly different, in that it involves being provoked intentionally and causing a person’s death as a preventative to your own harm.

Insanity is the more difficult defense. It requires you to prove that legal insanity drove you to act in such a way that another person died, such as being unable to understand what was happening in a moment or not knowing the difference between right and wrong in a situation, or that a mental health condition drove your actions.

An experienced attorney can help you determine your best defense strategy if you’re being charged with any form of manslaughter.