Unlike other states which divide the crime of manslaughter into voluntary and involuntary manslaughter, the Beehive State divides its manslaughter laws based upon things such as recklessness of the act, the use of negligence, and whether the death occurred while operating a motor vehicle (i.e. vehicular manslaughter) or committing assault or child abuse.
The primary difference between murder and manslaughter is intent. Murder is generally understood to be an intentional killing whereas manslaughter is an unintentional killing. However, there are exceptions to this rule. For example, if a person commits murder under extreme emotion distress or while acting under a delusion due to mental illness, the crime of murder may be reduced to manslaughter. These defenses are called mitigating circumstances. The following article is a brief summary of Utah manslaughter laws.
Utah Manslaughter Laws
The table below outlines manslaughter laws in Utah.
|Code Sections||UTAH CODE ANN. § 76-5-205 et seq.|
|What is Prohibited?||
Recklessly causing the death of another person or committing murder with a mitigating factor such as acting under extreme emotional distress or under a delusion due to a mental illness
Child abuse homicide :
Causing the death of a person under 18 years of age while committing child abuse
Automobile homicide :
Causing the death of another person while operating a motor vehicle in a negligent manner and the driver is incapable of safely operating the vehicle due to the influence of alcohol, drugs, or both, a chemical test conducted during or after operation of the vehicle shows a BAC concentration of .08 grams or greater, or the driver was using a handheld wireless communication device
Homicide by assault :
Causing the death of another person while intentionally or knowingly attempting to injure that person by using unlawful force or violence under circumstances which do not amount to murder or manslaughter
Negligent homicide: causing the death of another person with criminal negligence
Manslaughter is a second-degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.
Child abuse homicide is a first-degree felony punishable by up to life imprisonment and up to $10,000 if the child abuse was reckless. If the child abuse was done with criminal negligence or intentionally committed, it is a second-degree felony.
Automobile homicide and homicide by assault are third-degree felonies punishable by up to 5 years in prison and up to $5,000 in fines. If the driver was criminally negligent, the crime of automobile homicide is a second-degree felony.
Negligent homicide is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to 1 year in prison and up to $2,500.
If the death occurred as the result of driving a motor vehicle, the driver's license will also be revoked.
The person was acting under a delusion due to a mental illness. (It is not a defense if the person voluntarily consumed the alcohol or drugs which led to the delusion.)
The person was acting under the influence of extreme emotional distress.
The above defenses can only reduce a crime from aggravated murder, attempted aggravated murder, murder, or attempted murder to murder, attempted murder, manslaughter, or attempted manslaughter.
Utah Manslaughter Laws: Related Resources
If you or someone you know has been charged with manslaughter, you may want to contact an experienced Utah criminal defense attorney. You can also visit Findlaw's sections on Involuntary Manslaughter Overview, Involuntary Manslaughter Penalties and Sentencing, Voluntary Manslaughter Overview, and Voluntary Manslaughter Penalties and Sentencing for more articles and information on this topic.
Contact a qualified attorney.