Manslaughter charges- Spokane Criminal Defense Lawyer

A homicide involves the death of one person at the hands of another. In a murder, the perpetrator intended to kill the victim. A murder might even involve premeditation. A manslaughter charge in the State of Washington involves a homicide, but without intention or premeditation. What comes to issue is whether the defendant charged with manslaughter was reckless and grossly negligent. The prosecution’s case turns on whether the victim’s death could have been avoided if the defendant had acted reasonably.

In the State of Washington, there are three different classifications of manslaughter. Those are:

  • Manslaughter in the first degree
  • Manslaughter in the second degree
  • Vehicular homicide

Manslaughter in the first degree
Pursuant to RCW 9A 32.060, somebody “is guilty of manslaughter in the first degree when;

(a) He or she recklessly causes the death of another person; or
(b) He or she intentionally and unlawfully kills an unborn quick child by inflicting an injury upon the mother of such child.” Manslaughter in the first degree is punishable as a class A felony

An unborn quick child has a beating heart, measurable brain waves and is noticeably moving. An unborn quick child can survive the trauma of birth with usual and customary medical care. Recklessness might be defined as an utter and callous disregard for the safety of others.

Manslaughter in the second degree
As per RCW 9A.32.070, somebody is guilty of manslaughter in the second degree “when, with criminal negligence, he or she causes the death of another person.” Manslaughter in the second degree is a class B felony. RCW 9A.08.010(1)(c) defines criminal negligence. It occurs when somebody “fails to be aware of a substantial risk that a wrongful act may occur and his or her disregard of such substantial risk is a gross deviation from conduct that a reasonable person would exercise in the same situation.”

Vehicular homicide
Most vehicular homicide cases spin off of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. RCW 46.61.520 governs the offense. Under the statute, if “the death of any person ensues within three years as a proximate result of injury proximately caused by the driving of any vehicle by any person, the driver is guilty of vehicular homicide if the driver was operating a motor vehicle:

(a)While under the influence of an intoxicating liquor, or any drug as defined by RCW 46.61.502; or
(b) In a reckless manner
(c) With disregard for the safety of others.” Vehicular homicide is a class A felony with extendable sentences of two years each for certain prior offenses.

Felony sentencing
As per RCW 9A.20.021, if a crime doesn’t have a specific sentence, a person’s sentence can’t exceed:

  • Life imprisonment and a fine not to exceed $50,000 for a class A felony
  • Up to 10 years in prison and a fine not to exceed $20,000 for a class B felony

Do you need a Spokane criminal defense lawyer?

Prosecutors are intense and relentless in pursuing convictions in manslaughter cases that involve the use of alcohol or drugs.

Upon being taken into custody on any manslaughter or vehicular homicide case, you’ll be advised that you have the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney. Invoke those rights and call our offices right away.

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