Is Manslaughter a Felony in Pennsylvania?

by | Jul 19, 2022

Manslaughter could be a felony in Pennsylvania if specific facts are present and proven in a criminal court beyond a reasonable doubt. The Commonwealth charges manslaughter as either a misdemeanor or felony. It would be a misdemeanor if negligence was the cause, whereas you face a felony if it involved a crime of intense passion or a person under age 12 in your care.

In This Article

A Philadelphia manslaughter attorney, Brad V. Shuttleworth, Esq., explains what type of offense manslaughter is, associated penalties, and common defenses to felony manslaughter charges. Shuttleworth Law wrote this article to help people and their loved ones get answers after an investigation or arrest and shares where you can turn to legal help if accused.

What Type of Offense Is Manslaughter?

Manslaughter is a type of homicide offense in Pennsylvania. A court can find someone guilty of manslaughter if they intentionally, knowingly, recklessly, or negligently cause the death of another person under 18 Pa.C.S. § 2501. Depending upon the facts of your case, you could face voluntary manslaughter or involuntary manslaughter charges.

Voluntary vs. Involuntary Manslaughter

Voluntary manslaughter and involuntary manslaughter involve the unjustified killing of another person that does not amount to murder. However, they are both two very different types of crimes.

Here is a closer look at the differences between voluntary vs. involuntary manslaughter under PA law:

  • Involuntary Manslaughter: 18 Pa.C.S. § 2504 defines involuntary manslaughter as recklessly or grossly negligently causing someone’s death, charged as a first-degree misdemeanor unless against a person under age 12.
  • Voluntary Manslaughter: 18 Pa.C.S. § 2503 defines voluntary manslaughter as causing the death of another over a “sudden and intense passion,” graded as a first-degree felony.

Basically, the law seeks to punish those who cause death to another. The biggest difference between these charges is their grading and whether you intended to harm someone. If you or a loved one are facing manslaughter charges, speak with an attorney to help you determine your legal options.

Related Article: PA Involuntary Manslaughter Charges: What You Need to Know

What Is the Punishment for Manslaughter in Pennsylvania?

Although manslaughter is a homicide offense in Pennsylvania, the punishment is not as severe as murder. However, you could face imprisonment, fines, and more if convicted. Voluntary manslaughter carries more severe consequences than involuntary manslaughter.

PA’s punishment for manslaughter includes:

  • First-degree misdemeanor involuntary manslaughter: Up to five years in prison and fines up to $10,000
  • Second-degree felony involuntary manslaughter: Up to ten years in prison and fines up to $25,000
  • First-degree felony voluntary manslaughter: Up to 20 years in prison and $25,000 in fines.

These penalties are some of the most severe you could face, just one grading away from capital punishment. The system was designed this way on purpose: to indicate the severity of your situation. Get a manslaughter lawyer on your side ASAP if you want to defend your case.

Related Article: What Is the Punishment for Manslaughter in Pennsylvania?

What Are Common Defenses to Felony Manslaughter Charges?

Hiring a criminal defense attorney is essential to clearing your name. At Shuttleworth Law, we launch a full investigation of the facts with every new manslaughter case received. Our legal team looks into the alleged evidence, determines what prosecutors can actually prove, and then use our findings to ask you more questions or share suggestions regarding your defense.

Every case’s facts are unique, meaning that no two strategies should be alike. Depending upon your situation, you could defend your case using:

  • Possible defense 1. Mistaken identity defense: It simply was not you who committed the crime.
  • Possible defense 2. Alibi defense: You could not have committed the crime since you were not there.
  • Possible defense 3. Self-defense: If someone else was attacking you and you felt threatened for your life, a self-defense argument may come into play.
  • Possible defense 4. Insanity defense: While still punishable, the court considers your mental state when prosecuting crimes.
  • Possible defense 5. Accidental death defense: Maybe you did cause the end of another’s life, but it was not provoked. Your attorney could get your charges dropped down to involuntary manslaughter.

Even if you do not see a defense in this list that would work for your case, that does not mean you are without legal options. It is almost impossible to conceive every possible defense that could arise out of manslaughter. Work with an experienced manslaughter defense attorney in Pennsylvania with a tenacious and resourceful approach.

Related Article: What Is a Felony in Pennsylvania?

Start Defending Your Manslaughter Charges Now

The clock is ticking down to your next hearing, conference, discovery request, and other legal events that determine the outcome of your or your loved one’s situation. You could be missing valuable case opportunities, whether dealing with a felony or misdemeanor. Even if you cannot get your charges dropped in the early stages of your case, a Philadelphia homicide defense lawyer at Shuttleworth Law will continue arguing for your freedom and innocence while holding prosecutors and police accountable to their responsibilities and standards.

Get My Free Case Evaluation With Brad V. Shuttleworth, Esq.

Brad is our founder and lead homicide defense lawyer at Shuttleworth Law with over 17 years of legal experience. He takes a protective approach with every case while looking for every chance to get your charges dropped or beat in court. Learn more about how he could help you by calling (215) 774-1371for your Free Case Evaluation or messaging here.

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