Manslaughter is the unlawful killing of another without malice, either express or implied. Voluntary manslaughter is the unlawful killing of a person in sudden heat of passion upon sufficient legal provocation. Both heat of passion and sufficient legal provocation must be present at the time of killing. Provocation means some act of the victim, such as an attack on the defendant by the victim. The victim's efforts to defend himself would not constitute legal provocation but an unprovoked attack would. Use of excessive force by the victim during a citizen's arrest is sufficient to constitute legal provocation. Voluntary manslaughter in South Carolina carries a minimum penalty of two years and a maximum penalty of thirty years in prison.
Involuntary manslaughter is defined as either: 1) the unintentional killing of another without malice but while engaged in an unlawful activity not naturally tending to cause death or great bodily harm; or 2) the unintentional killing of another without malice while engaged in lawful activity with reckless disregard for the safety of others. There must be proof beyond a reasonable doubt of criminal negligence on the part of the defendant, which is defined as a reckless disregard for the safety of others. The maximum penalty for involuntary manslaughter is five years.
Under the right circumstances, a murder charge can be reduced to manslaughter or the jury can find a defendant guilty of the lesser offense of manslaughter. If you or a loved one is charged with murder, voluntary manslaughter, or involuntary manslaughter, call our Myrtle Beach office at 843-444-6122 or contact us online for a free initial consultation to find out what your options are.