A violent altercation may leave one person dead, with the assailant facing serious charges. The accused might discover the charges are not murder but manslaughter. While the penalties for manslaughter are far less than what a murder conviction could bring, a guilty verdict for manslaughter could result in the defendant going to a Texas prison for many years.
Understanding manslaughter charges
In Texas, there is no distinction between voluntary and involuntary manslaughter. Ultimately, if someone’s “recklessness” caused another person to die, manslaughter charges might be imminent. For example, if two people get into a violent argument and one person punches the other, a knockout may result in head trauma leading to death. Manslaughter charges could apply in the situation.
The defendant might not have made any plans to kill anyone nor intended to do so. Such facts are immaterial with manslaughter charges since manslaughter does not require intent or premeditation. Again, recklessness serves as the primary legal basis for such charges.
Manslaughter charges could follow a motor vehicle accident, as a drunk driver’s recklessness may result in criminal penalties. If the prosecution has a strong case, perhaps selling a dangerous product might lead to manslaughter charges.
Defending manslaughter charges
As with all violent crimes, establishing someone’s guilt centers on proving the case beyond a reasonable doubt. Questions surrounding the victim’s death might raise more than one reasonable doubt. If someone died during a fight, attempts to prove self-defense motivated striking the deceased could establish reasonable doubt.
Similarly, a drunk driving accident might establish some fault for the crash rested with the victim. Maybe the victim committed a moving violation or was not wearing a seat belt. These things may also cast doubt.
In some cases, pleading guilty to manslaughter might be preferable to taking chances in a murder trial. Juries may even have the option of finding someone guilty of the lesser charge of manslaughter.