In Georgia, the law distinguishes between two types of manslaughter: voluntary and involuntary. The difference between these two types of murder is the state of mind of the defendant at the time the crime was committed. In this blog, we will explore the OCGA rules that define voluntary and involuntary manslaughter in Georgia.
Voluntary Manslaughter in Georgia
Voluntary manslaughter is defined in OCGA § 16-5-2. This section states that a person commits voluntary manslaughter when they cause the death of another human being under circumstances which would otherwise be murder and if they act solely as the result of a sudden, violent, and irresistible passion resulting from serious provocation sufficient to excite such passion in a reasonable person. Basically, a voluntary manslaughter allegation is like a murder allegation without enough time for the voice of reason to speak up between provocation and deadly act. Where murder requires malice aforethought, voluntary manslaughter means the malice didn't occur long enough before the deadly act to satisfy aforethought.
Voluntary manslaughter is a felony punishable by one to twenty years.
Involuntary Manslaughter in Georgia
Involuntary manslaughter is defined in OCGA § 16-5-3. This section states that a person commits involuntary manslaughter when they cause the death of another person without intending to do so, but with reckless disregard for human life. The defendant must have acted recklessly, meaning they knew their actions created a high risk of harm but disregarded that risk.
To be convicted of involuntary manslaughter, the prosecution must prove that the defendant acted recklessly and that their reckless actions caused the death of the victim. The prosecution does not need to prove that the defendant had the specific intent to kill the victim.
Involuntary manslaughter is a felony punishable by one to ten years. But if the accused is convicted of involuntary manslaughter while committing a lawful act but in an unlawful manner, the accused will be punished as for a misdemeanor.
The Difference between Voluntary and Involuntary Manslaughter in Georgia
The key difference between voluntary and involuntary manslaughter is the defendant's state of mind at the time the crime was committed. Voluntary manslaughter requires intent and premeditation, while involuntary manslaughter requires reckless disregard for human life.
Additionally, the penalties for these crimes differ significantly. Voluntary manslaughter is punishable by life imprisonment or the death penalty, while involuntary manslaughter is punishable by up to 20 years in prison.
Manslaughter is a serious crime in Georgia, and the distinction between voluntary and involuntary manslaughter is significant. If you are facing either manslaughter charge in Georgia, it is essential to work with an experienced criminal defense attorney like Brian Cathey who can help you understand the charges against you and build a strong defense strategy. Understanding the OCGA rules for voluntary and involuntary manslaughter is an important first step in building your defense.