Maryland Manslaughter Defense Lawyer

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Manslaughter is a homicide committed without reason or justification but distinguished from murder by the absence of the element of malice aforethought. Malice is the intent, without just cause or reason, to commit a wrongful act that will result in harm to another. Today’s criminal statutes typically divide manslaughter into degrees, with the most common distinction being between voluntary and involuntary manslaughter.

Killing in the heat of passion provoked by actions of the victim, which cause a reasonable man to act impulsively and without reflection is voluntary manslaughter. Voluntary manslaughter results from an intentional act done without malice or premeditation and on sudden provocation.

Provocations for voluntary manslaughter can include violent assault or an unlawful attempt to arrest him. Voluntary manslaughter is not justified by simple insulting words or gestures. Most states grade manslaughter by degrees, and voluntary manslaughter is usually a first-degree offense.

Involuntary manslaughter is a killing in which there is no intention to kill at all. Involuntary manslaughter occurs as a result of committing a crime that is not a felony or an action likely to cause great bodily harm or when it is the result of a lawful action performed in a criminal manner.

Involuntary Manslaughter

There are two theories the State can go forward on under the involuntary manslaughter law in Maryland:

  1. Gross Negligence Act; or
  2. Unlawful Act.

Involuntary Manslaughter – Gross Negligence Act

The defendant is charged with the crime of involuntary manslaughter. In order to convict the defendant of involuntary manslaughter, the State must prove:

(1)   that the defendant acted in a grossly negligent manner; and

(2)   that this grossly negligent conduct caused the death of the victim.

“Grossly negligent” means that the defendant, while aware of the risk, acted in a manner that created a high risk to, and showed a reckless disregard for, human life.

If defendant was unaware of the risk due to self-induced intoxication, that unawareness is not a defense.

Involuntary Manslaughter – Unlawful Act

The defendant is charged with the crime of involuntary manslaughter. In order to convict the defendant of involuntary manslaughter, the State must prove:

(1)   that the defendant or another participating in the crime with the defendant committed or attempted to commit an unlawful act(s);

(2)   that the defendant or another participating in the crime killed the victim; and

(3)   that the act resulting in the death of the victim occurred during the commission or attempted commission or  escape from the immediate scene of the unlawful act(s).

If you’ve been charged with involuntary manslaughter in Maryland, contact attorney G. Randolph Rice, Jr., at (410) 694-7291 to schedule a free consultation.

Attorney Randolph Rice is a former Assistant State’s Attorney, recognized by Super Lawyers as a Maryland Rising Star, Avvo ranked 10 out of 10 and Lead Counsel Rated.

What is the penalty for involuntary manslaughter in Maryland?

A person who commits manslaughter is guilty of a felony and on conviction is subject to: (1) imprisonment not exceeding 10 years; or (2) imprisonment in a local correctional facility not exceeding 2 years or a fine not exceeding $ 500 or both.

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