Minnesota Voluntary Manslaughter Law
Voluntary manslaughter is like murder, in that a person intentionally causes another person’s death. However, it’s also different than murder because the perpetrator acted either out of a sudden passion or anger without having enough time to cool down or was coerced into the killing. Minnesota also provides for certain drug and child abuse related deaths and deaths caused during a violent misdemeanor crime to be punished as voluntary manslaughter.
Voluntary Manslaughter Examples
Two examples of when voluntary manslaughter may be more appropriate than a higher level of homicide, such as first-degree murder or second-degree murder are self-defense and a cheating spouse. When a person acts in self-defense, but overreacts and kills his or her attacker, it may be voluntary manslaughter. A victim may kill his or her abuser in a domestic violence situation. The victim intended to kill, but since it was in self-defense during a "heat of passion" moment, the court may find the defendant guilty of voluntary manslaughter instead of murder. This is the battered women's syndrome defense.
The second example is when a person walks in on his or her spouse having sex with a lover. If at this moment, the person is shocked, grabs a gun in the bedside table, and shoots both of them. The court may find that it was voluntary manslaughter. Conversely, if the person runs away, drinks all night, and then finds the lover at home and kills him or her, the court may find the killer had time to cool down. Thus, it’s murder, not voluntary manslaughter.
Minnesota Voluntary Manslaughter Statute
The following table details the voluntary manslaughter law in Minnesota.
Minnesota Statutes Section 609.205 – Manslaughter in the First Degree
What Is Prohibited?
Minnesota law prohibits any intentional killing. However, some types of killings are decreased or mitigated from murder to manslaughter based on the circumstances. Those circumstances in Minnesota that are manslaughter in the first degree are:
Manslaughter in the first degree is punished by not more than 15 years in prison and a fine of not more than $30,000.
The statute specifically states that a crying child is not adequate provocation for heat of passion voluntary manslaughter in Minnesota. Other defenses may apply to any manslaughter charge, such as innocence, insanity, or “perfect” self-defense (meaning you acted reasonably and justifiably in stopping someone from causing you serious injury or death).
Note: State laws change often, it's important to verify the laws you’re researching.
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