What Is the Punishment for Manslaughter in Pennsylvania?

by | Jul 11, 2022

The punishment for manslaughter in Pennsylvania could result in a maximum 20-year sentence and $25,000 in fines. Other penalties could include probation, counseling, and a loss of firearms rights. Get legal advice as soon as possible if PA prosecutors accuse you or a loved one of committing manslaughter.

In This Article

Philadelphia manslaughter defense lawyer, Brad V. Shuttleworth, Esq., gives you a quick introduction to Pennsylvania manslaughter laws, addresses associated penalties, how they are different from murder charges, and where accused people or their worried loved ones can get legal advice.

Pennsylvania Manslaughter Laws Overview

Pennsylvania recognizes two types of manslaughter crimes, including involuntary and voluntary manslaughter. Involuntary manslaughter is when gross negligence allegedly causes another person’s death. Voluntary manslaughter involves a “sudden and intense passion,” provoking a person to kill another.

Manslaughter laws are found under Title 18, Chapter 25 of the Statutes of Pennsylvania. This chapter addresses all criminal homicide matters, including murder, involuntary manslaughter, voluntary manslaughter, causing or aiding suicide, drug delivery resulting in death, and the criminal homicide of law enforcement officers.

Involuntary vs. Voluntary Manslaughter Penalties

A court can only punish an accused person if prosecutors prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt. Otherwise, you will not go to prison or pay fines for manslaughter.

However, if they can accomplish their objective, a judge will impose penalties against those convicted of involuntary or voluntary manslaughter, as outlined below:

Involuntary Manslaughter Penalties

Involuntary manslaughter convictions result in lesser penalties than voluntary manslaughter convictions. The law grades involuntary manslaughter as a first-degree misdemeanor under 18 Pa.C.S. § 2504 unless the victim is under age 12 and in the care, control, or custody of the accused. In this situation, you could face a second-degree felony.

Penalties for involuntary manslaughter include:

  • 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

PA imposes misdemeanor or felony penalties under a separate statute. The Classes of Offenses statute falls under 18 Pa.C.S. § 106 and defines punishments for convictions by grade.

Related Article: What is a Felony in Pennsylvania?

Voluntary Manslaughter Penalties

Voluntary manslaughter convictions result in greater penalties than involuntary manslaughter convictions. The law grades voluntary manslaughter as a first-degree felony under 18 Pa.C.S. § 2503. First-degree felony penalties include up to 20 years in prison and $25,000 in fines.

Related Article: What Is a Misdemeanor in Pennsylvania?

How Manslaughter Penalties Compare to Murder

Pennsylvania may classify manslaughter and murder charges as homicide crimes, but they are both vastly different when you examine the legal issues more closely. Criminal homicide, specified under 18 Pa.C.S. § 2501, is when someone “intentionally, knowingly, recklessly or negligently” ends another person’s life.

The law does not specify punishments for homicide generally. Instead, you or your family member are charged with the specific crimes of murder, involuntary manslaughter, or voluntary manslaughter. Murder involves an intentional killing per 18 Pa.C.S. § 2502, resulting in far more severe penalties than manslaughter.

The punishment for murder in Pennsylvania includes:

  • Murder of the first degree (intentional killing): Mandatory life imprisonment or capital punishment as decided by a jury
  • Murder of the second degree (during a felony – also called felony murder): Mandatory life imprisonment
  • Murder of the third degree (all other murders): Up to 40 years imprisonment
  • Attempted murder: Up to 20 years in prison, or 40 if the attempt resulted in serious bodily injury

As you can see, PA’s murder punishment is far more consequential, such as the possibility of facing capital punishment. There is no possibility of that with manslaughter charges, either involuntary or voluntary. While the laws surrounding manslaughter are challenging to understand, it is important to remember that an experienced and trial-ready defense attorney knows how a vast body of law applies to your situation and how you could defend your case.

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

PA Manslaughter Charges Are Defensible

Commonwealth prosecutors may not have enough evidence to get a conviction. Even if they have all of the evidence in the world, the methods used to gather the evidence could have violated your civil rights. You might not know that this affects your situation without an independent investigation conducted on your behalf.

A Philadelphia manslaughter lawyer will work with experts across a wide range of disciplines to hold the justice system accountable. If we can find one little (or major) thing wrong in their allegations, we will use it to push for a more favorable case outcome.

Regardless of how the justice system has treated you, please know that if you hire an aggressive and resourceful firm, like Shuttleworth Law PC, you will have your day in court. We will help you navigate the legal complexities of your life as well, even after all is said and done. Our legal team will formidably stand by your side throughout the entire legal process.

Shuttleworth Law PC Invites You to a Free Case Evaluation

While you are not responsible for an unproven crime or false allegations, you still need to assert and submit your stance to the courts. Shuttleworth Law PC has helped the accused define legal truths as they apply to their situation for more than 17 years. Find out more about how we can help during a Free Case Evaluation by calling (215) 774-1371 or messaging Brad V. Shuttleworth, Esq. directly via our contact form.

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