North Carolina residents may be charged with voluntary manslaughter if they are suspected of having intentionally killed someone without having any prior intent to commit the act. For the label of voluntary manslaughter to be applied, the factors that led to the killing would need to have affected a reasonable person to the degree that they became disturbed mentally and physically. If this condition is not present, the offender may be accused of murder in the first degree or second degree instead.
The offense of voluntary manslaughter is situated between murder, or the killing of someone with malicious intents, and the justified taking of a life, such as in self-defense. Voluntary manslaughter is distinct from involuntary manslaughter, which is defined as the killing of someone as a result of a non-felonious illegal act committed by an individual or that is caused by a careless or irresponsible person. The exact definition of voluntary manslaughter will vary depending on the state in which the crime took place.
According to federal statutes, voluntary manslaughter is the illegal killing of a person that takes place suddenly, in the heat of passion or without malice. What is meant by the heat of passion will depend on the circumstances surrounding the killing, but the phrase typically pertains to an unavoidable emotion that any ordinary person would feel if presented with the same facts or faced with the same circumstances. The element of compulsion associated with voluntary manslaughter is starkly different from the element of calculation involved with first-degree murder.
Individuals who have been charged with offenses related to violent crimes may wish to speak with a criminal defense attorney about their legal options. The attorney might explain the legal penalties a client may be facing. Litigation may be used in an effort to protect the rights of clients accused of manslaughter or murder.