Manslaughter is a form of homicide -- conduct which causes the death of a person -- committed when a defendant recklessly causes death or, with an intent to cause serious physical injury, causes death. For example, someone arrested for drunk driving after causing an accident in which a passenger or another motorist is killed would also likely be charged with involuntary manslaughter. But where there was no initial (or premeditated) intent to kill someone, such as so-called "heat of the moment" crimes, such a homicide may be charged as voluntary manslaughter.
New York Voluntary Manslaughter Laws: The Basics
While some states refer to these separate offenses as involuntary or voluntary manslaughter, the New York Penal Code identifies them as manslaughter in the second degree and first degree, respectively. The following table lists additional details about New York's first degree (voluntary) manslaughter laws.
New York Penal Code Section 125.20
New York Penal Code Section 125.22 (aggravated charge)
|Statutory Definition of First Degree Manslaughter||
A person is guilty of first-degree manslaughter when he or she:
|Statutory Definition of Aggravated First Degree Manslaughter||
First-degree manslaughter is elevated to aggravated first-degree manslaughter in either of the following two instances:
|Defenses to Voluntary Manslaughter Charges||
|Penalties and Sentences||
Class B felony; 5-25 yrs. in prison and a fine of up to $5,000 (10 to 30 yrs. in prison for an aggravated offense)
Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
The Meaning of 'Serious Physical Injury'
Section 10.00(10) of the Penal Code defines "serious physical injury" as physical injury which "creates a substantial risk of death, or which causes death or serious and protracted disfigurement, protracted impairment of health or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily organ."
The prosecution may establish a defendant's requisite intent to cause serious physical injury through evidence such as threats to injure the victim, the number and location of blows, gunshots or stab wounds, or the fact that the defendant continued to attack after incapacitating the victim. Because a defendant's subjective intent is often difficult to establish, a prosecutor may submit first-degree manslaughter as a lesser-included offense of intentional murder.
New York Voluntary Manslaughter Laws: Related Resources
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