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Maine Manslaughter Law

In Maine, criminal homicides are subcategorized into three different crimes: murder, felony murder, and manslaughter. This article provides a brief overview of Maine's manslaughter law.

Some states divide manslaughter into two separate crimes: voluntary manslaughter and involuntary manslaughter. However, in the state of Maine there is one manslaughter statute that criminalizes all versions of manslaughter. The table below outlines Maine's manslaughter law.

Code Section

Maine Revised Statute 17-A section 203: Manslaughter

What's Prohibited?

A person is guilty of manslaughter if that person:
  • Recklessly, or with criminal negligence, causes the death of another human being
  • Intentionally or knowingly causing the death of another human being while under circumstances that don't constitute murder because the killer causes the death while under the influence of extreme anger or extreme fear brought on by adequate provocation, or
  • Has direct and personal management control over any employment, place of employment, or other employee, and intentionally violates any safety or health standard and that violation in fact causes the death of an employee and that death is a reasonably foreseeable consequence of the violation


Manslaughter can be either a Class A or a Class C crime.
  • Class A crime: Punishable by up to 30 years in prison, and/or a fine of up to $50,000.
  • Class C crime: Punishable by up to five years in prison, and/or a fine of up to $5,000.

What's the Difference Between Murder and Manslaughter?

The key difference between murder and manslaughter is the element of malice. Malice is generally defined as the intent to kill or to cause serious bodily injury, and in most states it is an element of murder. In other words, murder is the unlawful killing of another with malice, while manslaughter is the unlawful killing of another without malice. However, in some circumstances a killing done with malice that would ordinarily qualify as murder can be reduced to the lesser offense of manslaughter due to mitigating circumstances.

Mitigating Murder to Manslaughter

Intentional killings committed in the "heat of passion" can sometimes be mitigated from murder to manslaughter in Maine. If the killing was committed under the influence of extreme anger or extreme fear brought on by adequate provocation then the offender's charge or murder may be reduced to manslaughter. For example, if a husband comes home to find his wife in bed with another man and the husband kills his wife's lover while under the influence of extreme anger, the husband act may qualify as manslaughter.

Additional Resources

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

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