What is Heat of Passion Manslaughter? What is the Difference between First Degree Murder and Voluntary Manslaughter?
“Heat of passion” voluntary manslaughter in Philadelphia requires the jury to find that at the time of the killing, the defendant acted under a sudden and intense passion resulting from serious provocation. Passion in terms of voluntary manslaughter means anger and terror that is so intense, strong, and high that it prevents the defendant from…
Criminal homicide in Philadelphia and across Pennsylvania is a very serious group of offenses which carry harsh sentences. Criminal homicide charges are brought whenever a person is suspected of the knowing, intentional, reckless or negligent act of causing the death of another person in Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania law further divides criminal homicide offenses into several categories, including:
It is absolutely possible to face criminal homicide offenses and ultimately more specific murder, manslaughter, involuntary manslaughter or homicide by vehicle charges.
Murder Charges in Philadelphia
The degree of murder charged is based upon the intent behind a person’s actions and the circumstances surrounding loss of life. When a prosecutor believes a homicide was premeditated or intentional and the actions of the accused were most likely to lead to the death of another it will usually result in first degree murder charges.
If the loss of life occurred while another crime was being committed, the charge will often be second degree murder. All other criminal homicide offenses which were committed with “malice” but without “specific intent” will usually be charged as third degree murders. We are often able to get first and second degree murder charges reduced to third degree murder, which carry much more flexible sentencing guidelines.
Finally, any other kind of murder is also considered third degree murder. Third degree murder is a first degree felony where a conviction can result in up to forty years in jail.
Voluntary Manslaughter or Involuntary Manslaughter
Criminal homicide is considered voluntary manslaughter when someone loses their life in Pennsylvania without legal justification, such as when a killing occurs in the heat of passion or due to provocation. It is possible to face voluntary manslaughter charges even when you believe you acted justly, such as in cases of self-defense. If the person’s assessment of the situation and associated risk or belief in the need for lethal force is thought to be unreasonable, they will usually face voluntary manslaughter charges.
When a person loses their life due to gross negligence or recklessness, the person responsible for the death will often face involuntary manslaughter charges. Involuntary manslaughter is part of the criminal homicide offenses available to prosecutors who must hold someone accountable for loss of life. This could include Driving Under the Influence (DUI), acting recklessly or committing a criminal act which negligently results in the loss of another’s life.
Contact an Experienced Philadelphia Criminal Homicide Offenses Attorney
If you are facing criminal homicide charges of any magnitude in Philadelphia or throughout Pennsylvania, you are facing serious criminal charges with severe potential consequences. If you are suspected of criminal homicide or have been charged with criminal homicide offenses it is important to contact the experienced Philadelphia homicide and murder defense firm of Wimmer Criminal Defense or call for a free consultation today at (215) 712-1212.
We fight for our clients at every step of the process. We investigate the actions of police and investigators and the process of evidence collection. We challenge the prosecution at each step with a proven strategy designed to reduce the charges and consequences our clients face or achieve an outright dismissal or acquittal.