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    Los Angeles Voluntary & Involuntary Manslaughter Defense Lawyers

    Criminal Defense Lawyers in Los Angeles Protecting the Rights of Criminal Defendants

    If you or a loved one are charged with manslaughter, you already know the weight of stress and anxiety that comes with the possible conviction for the death of another human being. The varying degrees of offenses are based on a killing without malice aforethought, meaning there was no formulated plan to do so. A Los Angeles criminal defense attorney can help you understand the different charges and penalties associated with each in light of your particular situation. Contact the Law Offices of David S. Chesley today to discuss the facts and circumstances of your case.

    Voluntary Manslaughter

    In California, voluntary manslaughter is the intentional killing of another person or acting with a conscious disregard for human life. The resulting death must be a direct, substantial, natural and probable consequence of the particular action that would not have happened otherwise. Voluntary manslaughter is differentiated from murder in that it is the result of the “heat of passion.” If there is a period passing in between the heated event and the act of killing, the defendant may be charged with murder instead. The time to plan the killing points to acting with malice, which elevates the crime above voluntary manslaughter.

    There may be situations where acting in self-defense or defense of another can result in a voluntary manslaughter conviction. A justifiable homicide consists of the belief that the need to use deadly force was reasonable and may be demonstrated in the defendant’s actions by the following:

    1. The actual belief that the defendant or someone else was in imminent danger of being killed or suffering great bodily harm.
    2. The actual belief that the immediate use of deadly force was necessary to defend against the imminent danger.

    If one of those two beliefs was unreasonable, a voluntary manslaughter conviction is possible. On the same note, the belief that a future danger of being killed or suffering great bodily injury is not sufficient to justify the use of deadly force. The facts considered in the evaluation are:

    • The facts and circumstances known to the defendant
    • The facts and circumstances that the victim threated or harmed the defendant or others in the past
    • The facts and circumstances showing a threat received by the defendant reasonably associated with the victim

    Because of the complicated legal issues that arise in manslaughter cases, it is critical for any accused of this offense to retain a Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer as soon as he or she can. Call our office today to set up a free consultation.


    There are different legal defenses that may be applicable in your case in relation to your actions. Some of those include the following:

    • Self-defense
    • State of Insanity
    • False Confession
    • Unlawful Search & Seizure

    A voluntary manslaughter charge may be reduced to an involuntary manslaughter charge with a successful defense, or possibly dismissed altogether. A California criminal defense lawyer with experience in this area of law can walk you through the different defenses and determine the best possible defense for your case.


    Voluntary manslaughter is charged as a felony in California. The conviction falls under the Three Strikes Rule elevating the consequences if there are any prior felony convictions on your record. The penalties may include:

    • State prison sentence of 3, 6 or 11 years
    • Up to $10,000 fine
    • Possible loss of the right to own or possess a firearm

    Involuntary Manslaughter

    In California, an involuntary manslaughter charge may arise when another human being is killed as a result of the defendant’s unlawful or dangerous act. The circumstances may be that no intent or premeditation was present but criminal liability still arises. The prosecutor must show the following in order to obtain a conviction:

    1. The defendant’s action was a crime or a lawful act committed in an unlawful manner,
    2. The defendant’s action involved criminal negligence, and
    3. The defendant’s action resulted in the death of another.

    Criminal negligence must be present and involves more than a mistake, lapse in judgment, or general carelessness. It requires a reckless act that creates a high risk of death or great bodily injury that a reasonable person would have understood.

    Failure to perform a legal duty that results in the death of another also may apply to an involuntary manslaughter charge. The legal duty must be to the person who died by the defendant’s inaction through criminal negligence causing the death of another. Some relationships that this may apply to are between a parent and child, paid caretaker and client, or doctor and patient.


    If no criminal intent or criminal negligence can be proven, the defendant may have a defense to an involuntary manslaughter charge. Some of those defenses include:

    • Accidental – the action that caused the death was an accident
    • Negligence – there was no criminal or gross negligence involved
    • Self-defense – the action was committed out of fear of imminent death with reasonable use of force
    • Mistaken Identity – the accused was wrongfully arrested

    A successful defense will demonstrate that the prosecution lacks sufficient evidence to produce a conviction for involuntary manslaughter. A Los Angeles criminal defense attorney may also be able to raise arguments regarding law enforcement’s role in the investigation, making sure that all of their actions during the investigation were within the law and did not violate any of your constitutional rights.


    The possible penalties for involuntary manslaughter include the following:

    • Up to one year in county jail or up to four years in State prison
    • Fines up to $10,000
    • Formal probation
    • Victim restitution
    • Loss of gun ownership privileges
    • Community service or other required programs

    Vehicular Manslaughter

    In California, vehicular manslaughter involves operating a vehicle and negligently committing an unlawful act or lawful act that caused the death of another. It’s important to note that the unlawful act must not be a felony act in California. If someone is killed while you are operating a vehicle and committing an act that is a felony, you may be charged with murder as opposed to vehicular manslaughter. There may also be situations where you can be charged with gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated if you were under the influence of drugs or alcohol while operating a vehicle.

    Some examples of vehicular manslaughter situations include:

    • Texting and driving caused a collision with a pedestrian resulting in death
    • Speeding on the highway causing a collision with another vehicle resulting in death
    • Running a stop sign causing a collision with another vehicle resulting in death

    The penalties for involuntary manslaughter depend upon the nature of the negligence involved, whether it was ordinary or gross negligence. Ordinary negligence will likely result in a misdemeanor charge with up to one year in county jail. Gross negligence can be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony depending on the facts and circumstances of the case with consequences ranging from one year in county jail to a maximum of six years in State prison. Other fines, probation, and required programs may apply to your sentence as well.

    Contact a Los Angeles Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney to Discuss Your Case

    A charge of manslaughter is a difficult reality to face for anyone involved in a situation that results in the death of another person. A California criminal defense attorney can help you understand the legal proceedings ahead of you and explain any possible defenses you may have to your charges. The Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer of the Law Offices of David S. Chesley will work tirelessly to ensure you receive the most favorable outcome possible in your situation. Contact us today for a free case evaluation at 800-755-5174 or fill out our contact form online.

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    First Degree Murder

    The allegations of first-degree murder are one of the toughest offenses with harsh punishments for a lifetime. California has a strict legal framework for punishing those who show a disregard for human life.

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    Second Degree Murder

    Most of the murders that do not qualify the elements of first-degree murder are charged with second-degree murder.

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    Voluntary Manslaughter

    The article 192 of the California Penal Code distinguishes manslaughter from the murder.

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    Involuntary Manslaughter

    According to the Penal Code statute 193(b), a person is guilty of involuntary manslaughter when killing results from an unlawful act, or from dangerously committing a lawful act, or because of criminal negligence.

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    Vehicular Manslaughter

    Vehicular Manslaughter (CA Penal Code 191.5 & 192 PC) is when someone is injured or killed by the negligent operation of a vehicle.

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    Gang Related Murder

    Gang-related Murder is a very serious offense. In California it is against the law to participate in a criminal street gang.

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    • Multiple defendants each facing 7 years charged with smuggling prescription drugs into California from Mexico our client was the only defendant who received NO JAIL TIME!

    • Client facing 5 years for possession of deadly weapon we negotiated a plea for NO JAIL TIME!

    • Client facing 3 life terms for multiple felony counts of Child Molestation and Sodomy with child we proved the charges were fabricated by victims mother DISMISSAL of all charges at preliminary hearing!

    • Strike case: Client charged with possession of methamphetamine facing 25 years we filed a Romero Motion which was granted case REDUCED TO MISDEMEANOR!

    • Client’s estranged girlfriend alleged Client broke into her room and choked her facing 14 years in State Prison we won at trial JURY ACQUITTAL.

    • Police allegedly discovered 3 bags of marijuana in client’s glove box faced 6 years we filed a 1538.5 motion to suppress resulting in DISMISSAL of all charges!

    • Client allegedly sold rock cocaine to undercover officer faced 10 years following our argument client received NO JAIL TIME!

    • Client facing 15 years for Armed Robbery we proved misidentification Judge DISMISSED the case!

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