If you face voluntary manslaughter charges in Philadelphia, you might feel scared and overwhelmed. We can make the legal process less stressful by doing everything possible to get the charges dropped or reduced or to convince a jury of your innocence. Being accused of intentional killing is not as serious as murder, but it can still affect your life.
A voluntary manslaughter defense attorney in Philadelphia, PA, can represent you from the start of your case to the end. Our legal team strives to put our clients’ minds at ease by ensuring the legal system treats them fairly and fairly.
What Is Voluntary Manslaughter?
Voluntary manslaughter differs from other types of murder charges. Per 18 Pa. C.S.A § 2503, an individual may face voluntary manslaughter charges if they:
- Were provoked by the victim and reacted with intense passion (for example, if the victim made provocative gestures or statements).
- Were provoked by someone other than the victim and, in the process of trying to kill that person, inadvertently ended up killing the victim.
- Unreasonably and incorrectly believed that the victim had done something to justify their death.
Voluntary manslaughter is not as severe as murder, which is usually premeditated rather than “spur of the moment.” However, it is more serious than involuntary manslaughter, where the victim’s death was purely an accident brought about by careless or reckless behavior. It’s important to understand the difference between involuntary manslaughter charges and voluntary manslaughter charges so we can fight them accordingly.
Regardless of how you came to be charged with voluntary manslaughter, our team wants to ensure you receive just treatment under the law. The sooner you get in touch with us, the sooner we can work on building your defense.
For a free legal consultation with a voluntary manslaughter lawyer serving Philadelphia, call 215.515.3360
What Evidence Is Used in Voluntary Manslaughter Cases?
In criminal cases involving allegations of criminal homicide, the prosecution and the defense build their cases using materials from various sources. Some of the materials we may use to refute the prosecutor’s case include:
- Witnesses: Both sides may call eyewitnesses and expert witnesses to corroborate their version of events. Character witnesses that testify about the defendant’s general nature are also present in voluntary homicide cases. For example, a witness can be used in a vehicular homicide to verify that the driver was negligent or reckless.
- Police report: The official report of the alleged crime often contains information critical to both sides. We can use it to ensure police officers do not violate your rights at any time.
- Previous police reports: For example, if the victim had a history of violent or threatening behavior, this could show it was not unreasonable for you to believe that they intended to hurt you. We can then contend you acted in self-defense to their provocation.
- Photos or videos: Any footage of the crime scene can help us understand what happened. We can also use it to provide an alibi if there is footage showing you were elsewhere at the time of the alleged homicide; it could prove your innocence.
Philadelphia Voluntary Manslaughter Lawyer 215.515.3360
Voluntary Manslaughter Penalties Are Severe
Knowing the consequences of a voluntary manslaughter charge can help you understand what we’re up against. As outlined at 18 Pa. C.S.A § 11, as a first-degree felony, voluntary manslaughter charges carry the following maximum penalties:
- As much as a $25,000 fine
- Up to 20 years in prison
- Restitution (compensation for the victim’s family), in whatever amount the judge deems appropriate
The judge may or may not sentence you to these maximums; it depends on the specifics of the alleged crime, your criminal history, and other factors. While penalties for voluntary manslaughter are serious because you are accused of intentional rather than accidental killing, they are not as severe as the penalties for murder.
You Could Face Penalties Outside the Legal System As Well
It is easy to imagine how imprisonment and a hefty financial penalty can have a long-lasting, destructive effect on your life. You might:
- Have trouble finding work: It is unfortunate, but many employers are reluctant to hire individuals with criminal records, even after completing their sentence and preparing to return to society. Some incorrectly equate voluntary manslaughter charges to murder which can further tarnish your future.
- Be forced into debt: The amount you must pay in fines, restitution, and so forth depends on the judge, not your financial situation. You will be expected to pay, no matter the effects on you or your family.
- Be separated from loved ones: A lengthy prison sentence could disrupt your relationship with your children, your parents, and others you care about.
- Lose friendships: Some people may alter or sever their relationship with you because of a voluntary manslaughter conviction.
- Lose some civil rights: For example, anyone serving time for a felony is not allowed to vote until they are released, per the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections.
Our criminal defense lawyers are ready to dispute criminal charges against you. Our team is ready to use our experience to try to lessen or dismiss criminal homicide allegations, so your future isn’t jeopardized.
Let Us Protect You From Manslaughter Charges
Our team fights hard to defend our clients and help them regain their lives as quickly as possible. We can do this by:
- Offering a free consultation: Feel free to call us at any time. A lawyer awaits your call, ready to discuss your alleged homicide case and explain more about our services. We offer this service at no cost because we believe everyone deserves the right to legal representation.
- Answering your questions: We know how confusing the legal system can be. For this reason, we strive to make ourselves available whenever you need to ask a question.
- Investigating the alleged crime: We can speak to witnesses, examine photos or videos of the scene, and request documentation. If there is any weakness in the prosecution’s case, we will find it.
- Seeking reduction or dismissal: With a strong enough case, we can ask that the charge against you be reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor. In some cases, we can get homicide charges dropped altogether.
- Negotiating a plea: The prosecutor may agree to let you plead guilty to a lesser charge. This arrangement can protect you from large fines or a lengthy prison sentence and enable you to complete your sentence faster.
- Fighting for you in court: If your case goes to trial, we can present your case before a jury and argue that the prosecution’s case is insufficient for a conviction.
Therefore, if you’re facing charges of killing another person in Philadelphia, our team will fight for you and ensure that you understand and are comfortable with the legal process.
We Defend Clients Against Voluntary Manslaughter Charges
The Law Offices of M.J. Snyder, LLC, proudly represents clients throughout the Philadelphia, PA, area. A criminal defense attorney from our office can investigate the voluntary manslaughter charges against you and build the strongest, most persuasive defense possible.
Call us or fill out the contact form for a free, confidential consultation.