Voluntary Manslaughter Law – California Penal Code 192(a) PC
The crime of “voluntary manslaughter” is defined under California Penal Code Section 192(a) PC. This violent crime offense can be described as killing someone in a confrontation after anger or emotion was provoked.
PC 192(a) explains that you can be convicted of voluntary manslaughter if:
- A death of someone was the spontaneously result during a quarrel or the heat of passion, and
- Your behavior was the result of adequate provocation
It should be noted that for provocation to be adequate, it must be determined that other reasonable people in the exact situation would have similarly acted.
Penal Code 192(a) voluntarily manslaughter charges are considered a lesser offense to murder and are normally offered as an option to jurors in a Peal Code 187 murder trial.
Prosecutors don't typically initially file PC 192(a) charges, rather voluntarily manslaughter becomes a negotiating option in murder cases after a defendant has admitted to killing another person.
Their criminal defense lawyer will normally negotiate with the prosecutor to have the charges reduced to manslaughter.
It's crucial to understand the difference between voluntary manslaughter and murder.
The main factor is whether a defendant acted with “malice aforethought,” which means they intended to kill another person, or had a wanton disregard for human life.
When someone is killed in the heat of passion, it's typically assumed the act was without malice and the primary reason to pursue the reduced charge of voluntary manslaughter.
In simple terms, the theory is that the defendant didn't have time to plan a killing, rather they just acted unintentionally without any plans for killing someone.
What is the Definition of PC 192(a) Voluntary Manslaughter?
California Penal Code 192(a)defines voluntary manslaughter:
- Manslaughter is an unlawful killing of a human being without malice. Voluntary manslaughter occurs upon a sudden quarrel or heat of passion.
A “sudden quarrel” means you killed someone suddenly during a confrontation after provoked and as a consequence, you acted under high emotions preventing reasonable judgment.
A “heat of passion” means intense emotions causing you to act in an impulsive manner.
If it can be proven there was sufficient time between when you were provoked and the actual killing, you might face California Penal Code 187 PC murder charges.
“Sufficient provocation” typically requires that it was sufficient enough to cause a normal person in the similar situation to react in an emotional manner.
However, there is no clear standard for sufficient provocation and just another reason why you will need an experienced criminal defense lawyer if you have been accused of PC 192(a) voluntary manslaughter.
What are the Penalties?
If convicted of the felony crime of Penal Code 192(a), voluntary manslaughter, then you are facing:
- Three, six, or eleven years in a California state prison
- A fine up to $10,000
These penalties might be increased if there are gang allegations, prior conviction, or if a weapon was used to commit the crime.
Also, a PC 192(a) conviction might result in a “strike” under the three strikes law. Further, a felony conviction means you will lose the right to own or possess a firearm.
What are the Related California Offenses?
- Penal Code 187 PC – Murder
- Penal Code 192(b) PC – Involuntary Manslaughter
- Penal Code 192(c) PC – Vehicular Manslaughter
- Penal Code 191.5 – Vehicular Manslaughter While Intoxicated
- DUI Manslaughter – Watson Murder
How Can I Fight Voluntary Manslaughter Charges?
Any defense will depend on the circumstances and evidence and a host of other factors. However, there are a range common defenses, including:
If accused of PC 192(a) voluntary manslaughter, our criminal lawyers will review the details to develop a strategy for best possible outcome.
Depending on the details, we might be able to make a reasonable argument that you were acting in self-defense.
For instance, an imperfect self-defense is described as making a mistake in judgment in the use of a deadly weapon in circumstances where you should have.
It's also described as you had a belief you needed to defend yourself, or someone else, but you should have not acted in this manner.
In simple terms, it means you had a belief you were in imminent danger and had to use deadly force, but your belief wasn't reasonable (People v. Flannel).
This type of legal argument is normally used in order to negotiate your case to a reduced charge of murder down to voluntary manslaughter.
It simply means you the belief you had at the moment to use deadly force was wrong, or your belief that you were in danger was incorrect.
This form of defense doesn't justify the killing, but you could potentially get your sentence mitigated down to something less.
We also might be able to make a self-defense argument because California laws might justify the killing if you were protecting yourself from being killed or suffering a serious injury.
Self-defense laws in California do allow you to take any reasonable steps to protect yourself from being harmed. There are certain situations where the laws on self-defense would excuse your conduct, but the specific details will need to be closely examined.
In certain situations, me might be able to argue the killing was an accident.
However, this would require showing some evidence there was no intent to harm the victim and that you weren't acting negligently, and your actions were lawful at the time the accidental killing occurred.
Criminal Defense for Voluntary Manslaughter Charges
If you were accused of voluntary manslaughter under California Penal Code 192(a), call our Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers to review the details and evidence in the case.
We have a record of success and may be able to negotiate with the prosecutor for reduced charges or even a case dismissal.
Every case is unique and a thorough examination of all the specific details is required to develop a defense strategy.
Cron, Israels & Stark is a criminal defense law firm with a team of highly experienced lawyers.
We are located at 11755 Wilshire Blvd, 15th Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90025 and 401 Wilshire Blvd #1200, Santa Monica, CA 90401.
Contact our firm for a free case consultation at (424) 372-3112.