Manslaughter, Voluntary & Involuntary

Defense Attorney in Virginia Beach for Manslaughter Charge

The difference between the criminal charges of murder and manslaughter has to do with intent. Murder is defined as the intentional killing of another with malice aforethought. In other words, a pre-planned act. Manslaughter still involves the killing of another, whether intentional or not, but without any forethought or planning. There are two degrees of manslaughter, involuntary and voluntary.


Voluntary manslaughter is many times referred to as a “passion killings”. The circumstances existing at the time of the intentional killing must be such to have reasonably caused the person to become irrational and emotionally or mentally disturbed, for example when a death occurs during a heated argument or fight, or when a lover catches their partner in the arms of another. In some cases an individual may believe they are acting in self defense, but may be charged with manslaughter because the use of deadly force was not appropriate under the circumstances.

Involuntary manslaughter is an unintentional killing based upon the accused person’s negligence or recklessness. The most common examples result from car accidents, particularly ones where the driver is driving under the influence. Involuntary manslaughter charges can also result from reckless handling of firearms.

What Is The Punishment For Manslaughter In Virginia?

Manslaughter in Virginia, both voluntary manslaughter and involuntary manslaughter, is a felony criminal charge punishable by up to 10 years in prison and/or up to a $2500 fine. In some involuntary manslaughter cases where the acts are deemed a gross and wanton disregard for human life, i.e., aggravated involuntary manslaughter, the punishment can be up to 20 years in prison.

Contact An Experienced Criminal Lawyer Immediately: (757) 422-4646

If you or someone you know has been charged with murder or manslaughter, our Virginia Beach criminal defense attorneys can help. Contact our office today to speak with one of our experienced attorneys. (757) 422-4646.

Virginia Statutes:

§ 18.2-35. How voluntary manslaughter punished.
§ 18.2-36. How involuntary manslaughter punished.
§ 18.2-36.1. Certain conduct punishable as involuntary manslaughter.
§ 18.2-36.2. Involuntary manslaughter; operating a watercraft while under the influence; penalties.