Georgia: Voluntary Manslaughter
When someone takes the life of another, regardless of intent or other details surrounding the incident, it is called a homicide. In Georgia, as in other states, voluntary manslaughter is a lesser homicide charge than murder.
Voluntary manslaughter occurs when a person intentionally kills another person "in the heat of passion." Ordinarily this would be considered murder, but because the killing is committed in response to a provocation, the criminal charges are reduced from murder to voluntary manslaughter.
Example of Voluntary Manslaughter
This type of crime typically happens when a person is acting in self-defense, but overreacts and kills another person. Many times voluntary manslaughter is often committed by an otherwise ordinary law abiding citizen who simply lost his or her temper for a few minutes The person technically acted with the intent to kill, but the self defense was "in the heat of passion" so the court will likely find the person guilty of voluntary manslaughter.
Cooling Off Period
The reaction to kill has to happen instantaneously. If the person has had any time to "cool off" before they go perform the killing, it becomes a murder. If the defendant had long enough for "the voice of reason and humanity to be heard" he will be guilty of murder, not voluntary manslaughter."
Voluntary Manslaughter and Civil Cases
Even if a person is charged with voluntary manslaughter in criminal court and is acquitted, the deceased's family may file a wrongful death claim in civil court. The burden of proof is less in a civil rather than a criminal case. Thus, the family may get justice in the form of financial compensation. Criminal courts do not always award financial restitution to the victim's survivors, so filing a civil claim may be the only way to recover damages.
The following table highlights the main provisions of Georgia's voluntary manslaughter laws. See Voluntary Manslaughter Defenses, Voluntary Manslaughter Penalties and Sentences, and Involuntary Manslaughter to learn more.
|Code Sections||O.C.G.A. 16-5-2(a)|
"Heat of passion" crime
|What is Prohibited?||
Intentionally killing another person as a result of "sudden, violent, irresistible passion" caused by "serious provocation." There can't be a significant cooling off period" between the provocation and the killing or it can become a murder charge.
|Penalty||Felony, 1-20 yrs. in prison|
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