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Hawaii Voluntary Manslaughter Law

Created by FindLaw's team of legal writers and editors.

Hawaii's criminal homicide laws are broken into first-degree murder, second-degree murder, manslaughter (also called voluntary manslaughter), and negligent homicide (also called voluntary manslaughter). This article provides a brief outline of Hawaii's voluntary manslaughter law.

What's the Difference Between Murder and Manslaughter?

While both murder and manslaughter involve unlawfully killing another person, manslaughter is the lesser crime because it doesn't involve the element of malice, or the intent to kill or cause serious bodily injury. In most states murder is the unlawful killing of another with malice while manslaughter is the unlawful killing of another without malice.

Voluntary Manslaughter vs. Involuntary Manslaughter

In many states the crime of manslaughter is broken down into voluntary manslaughter and involuntary manslaughter. In Hawaii, these crimes are called manslaughter and negligent homicide. The table below outlines Hawaii's manslaughter law.

Code Section

Hawaii Revised Statutes section 707-702: Manslaughter (Voluntary Manslaughter)

What's Prohibited?

  • Recklessly causing the death of another person, or
  • Intentionally causing another person to commit suicide

Penalties

Manslaughter is a class A felony that can be punished by up to 20 years in prison.

Reducing Murder to Manslaughter

In a prosecution for first or second-degree murder the charge can be reduced from murder to manslaughter if, at the time of the killing, the offender was under the influence of extreme mental or emotional disturbance for which there is a reasonable explanation. However, the killing must have been reasonable given the mental or emotional disturbance from the point of view of a reasonable person in the defendant's shoes.

Common Defenses to Manslaughter Charges

Legal defenses to voluntary manslaughter charges can include:

  • Actual innocence
  • Self-defense
  • Insanity
  • Intoxication

Additional Resources

State laws change frequently. For case specific information regarding Hawaii's voluntary manslaughter law contact a local criminal defense lawyer.

Next Steps: Search for a Local Attorney

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