Manslaughter is the term used to describe cases where a death happened in the heat of the moment. In other words, the action was not planned or deliberate, so there was no intention to cause death. In cases where a person’s mental faculties have been affected by alcohol or other substances, murder charges may be reduced to manslaughter. There are two broad categories of manslaughter; unlawful act and criminal negligence.
In this situation, death occurs because the offender committed an act that is against the law. In an unlawful act, causing death is not the primary goal.
Deaths resulting from a failure to act or an action demonstrating a reckless disregard for life fall under criminal negligence. In most cases of criminal negligence, a person with a duty to act, imposed by law, failed to do so – causing the death of another.
Penalty for manslaughter
Unlike murder, manslaughter does not carry an automatic penalty of life in prison. However, judges may hand down sentences of life imprisonment at their discretion. Most sentences fall between four and 15 years in prison. If a firearm was involved, a minimum of four years is required. There are no minimum years served to qualify for parole.