Manslaughter is the legal term for when a person is killed in a way that is considered to be less culpable than murder by the laws of the country. In the hierarchy of Texas homicide, manslaughter falls below murder.

In general, the laws of the country differentiate between the levels of criminal culpability based on the state of mind, or mens rea, of the person who committed the crime. In homicide, this general rule applies. Murder requires malice while manslaughter does not. Like murder being broken down into two categories, manslaughter is as well.

Voluntary manslaughter occurs when the defendant might have had the intent to cause the death of another person, but the liability for this intent is reduced because of the circumstances surrounding the death or the person’s state of mind. Basically, voluntary manslaughter comes down to crimes of passion or heat of the moment killings.

Involuntary manslaughter, which can also be called criminally negligent homicide, occurs where there is not the intent to kill or cause a serious injury. Here, the death is due to recklessness or criminal negligence on the part of the person who killed the deceased.

While it may seem like manslaughter, particularly voluntary, lets people get away with murder, it doesn’t. The crimes are separate and require separate elements. In many manslaughter cases, the defendant is charged with murder but the jury is given the instructions that if they find intent or mental state lacking, they can find the defendant guilty of manslaughter.

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If you have been charged with a crime and need experienced representation, contact Austin criminal defense lawyer Ian Inglis at (512) 472-1950.

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