Manslaughter is a legal term used for describing the process of killing a person that is lesser culpable compared to the act of murder. The difference of murder and manslaughter is actually the state of mind of the culprit. There are two major categories of manslaughter – voluntary and involuntary.
Voluntary manslaughter is cases wherein the defendant has an intent that causes the death or serious injury of a person. The charge for it is usually lesser in degree due to the fact of certain circumstances where the defendant is and the state of mind of the defendant.
There different types of voluntary manslaughter however many of these cases are indistinguishable from each other. Provocation is caused by any circumstances that make a reasonable person lose his or her self control causing him or her to kill another. Heat of passion can fall under this type but the main difference is the killing because it was caused by another person’s action. Imperfect defense is the type where in self defense is the reason for killing. It often refers to intentional killing but can’t be classified in the level of murder. Diminished responsibility is another reason to negate the charge down. It means complete mental breakdown or mental illness of the defendant. Infanticide is another type of voluntary manslaughter wherein the situation involves a mother killing her new born child. Usually this is linked with post natal depression. Insanity an entirely different defense at it completely works out against criminal charges because of health reasons. As a result, the defendant is confine in a mental institution.
On the other hand involuntary manslaughter or sometimes called criminal negligent homicide refers to unintentional killing resulting from negligence. It can also result from misdemeanor or felony. The ultimate distinction of involuntary manslaughter from voluntary manslaughter is the unintentional death of the victim. Usually unintentional killing are often classified as involuntary manslaughter. The main point is the absence of intent which is the distinguishing factor among the two.
Some states do not define involuntary manslaughter but some does basing on the amount of negligence the culprit incurs. It can be either criminal negligence, gross negligence or culpable negligence. Other jurisdiction apply recklessness when it comes to amount of negligence needed to comprise involuntary manslaughter. There are two types of involuntary manslaughter. It can either be criminally negligent manslaughter or unlawful act manslaughter. The criminal negligent manslaughter happened when high degree of negligence results to death. Failure to perform duties can be classified as criminally negligent manslaughter. Unlawful act manslaughter happen when someone causes death while committing a misdemeanor.
There are other kinds of manslaughter like vehicular which hold person liable for any death that happens in violation of traffic. Another is the intoxication manslaughter where a person operating airplanes, boats or amusement ride is under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Usually these cases are not justified by the court because a person under the influence of alcohol or drugs cannot be considered as a defense.