30 Second Guide to: Manslaughter10:28
The act of taking someone's life is considered to be one of the most heinous of crimes in the eyes of the law, and is often punishable by the strictest sentence. However, when someone is killed, it does not automatically mean they will be charged with murder. In fact, homicide and manslaughter are interrelated terms that have been debated over by the best minds around for centuries now.
If you’ve been following the trial of Conrad Murray (Michael Jackson’s doctor) then you might know that he was recently convicted of the involuntary manslaughter of the ‘King of Pop.’ Now that the dust over Jackson's trial has settled, it’s time to take a step back and take a look at exactly what Murray has been convicted of. Here’s a quick look at the concept of manslaughter.
Essentially, it is the legal term coined to describe the killing of another human being in a manner that is less culpable than murder--at least, according to the law. The fine line between murder and manslaughter seems to have been drawn as early as the 7th Century B.C. by the ancient Athenian lawmaker, Dracon.
The law finds a way to differentiate between levels of criminal culpability based on the state of mind of the individual when he committed the law-breaking act. Manslaughter is different from homicide in that the latter requires an "intent to kill," which does not exist in manslaughter.
The term can broadly be broken up into two sub-categories:
This occurs when the defendant kills with malice or the intention to kill, but certain mitigating circumstances reduce the culpability of the crime.
For example: If a woman were to kill her husband in a fit of rage after finding him cheating on her--but ordinarily would never have had such an intent--a jury might deem this voluntary manslaughter rather than direct homicide due to provocation.
This is just the opposite. In such a situation, the perpetrator of the crime may have never had any intention to kill.
For example: A person may have attacked another individual with the intent to seriously harm the victim but not kill him. However, say the victim had a medical condition that resulted in his dying due to the sustained injuries. In such a case, one might excuse the defendant under the involuntary manslaughter clause--and as such, he would serve a lesser punishment.