Detroit Manslaughter Lawyer
Manslaughter is a serious charge, and you will receive serious penalties if convicted. Prison time, fines, court costs, attorney’s fees, and a felony on your permanent criminal record mean that a manslaughter conviction can devastate your freedom, finances, family life, and reputation. Fortunately, a Detroit manslaughter lawyer may be able to help you avoid or mitigate these criminal penalties.
Even if you are acquitted of manslaughter charges, you may still face civil liability. If the victim’s family shows that your actions contributed to the death of their loved one, you may have to compensate them for their losses. Thus, a manslaughter charge may result in you fighting legal battles on two fronts.
How Does Michigan Law Define Manslaughter?
Unlike some states, the Michigan Penal Code does not define the crimes of murder and manslaughter. Instead, the relevant statutes only provide recommended sentences. For example, Michigan Penal Code section 750.321 provides that manslaughter is a felony punishable by a maximum sentence of 15 years imprisonment and $7,500 in fines.
Since the statutes do not give a precise definition of manslaughter, courts look to the common law inherited from England to define the crime. Under the common law adopted by the Michigan courts, manslaughter can be divided into categories: voluntary and involuntary.
To convict you of voluntary manslaughter, the prosecutor needs to demonstrate beyond a reasonable doubt that:
- You killed another person in the heat of passion
- Your passion was provoked by the person whom you killed
- There wasn’t enough time between the provocation and the killing that would have permitted a reasonable person to get his or emotions under control
As for involuntary manslaughter, a conviction requires that the prosecutor proves beyond a reasonable doubt that:
- You killed another person
- The person’s death was caused by your recklessness or an action that would likely result in injury or death
- You knew or should have known that your conduct was a threat to safety of others
When Do People Get Charged With Manslaughter?
It’s rare for people to get charged with voluntary manslaughter off the bat. It is more likely that a prosecutor will charge you with second-degree murder if there is evidence that you voluntarily killed someone. In such a case, you will end up facing a voluntary manslaughter conviction if your lawyer demonstrates that, instead of killing the victim out of malice, you were reacting to intense emotions resulting from the victim’s provocation.
Involuntary manslaughter, on the other hand, is often charged if you did something dangerous that caused someone’s death. In many cases, manslaughter charges result from driving under the influence (DUI) cases involving a fatality. Indeed, driving drunk is a reckless act that puts others in danger—and this is a fact that everyone knows. Thus, if your drunk driving causes a death, you are likely guilty of manslaughter.
What Are the Defenses to Manslaughter?
If you are charged with manslaughter, your criminal defense attorney may use several defense strategies to beat the charges. Depending on the specific facts of your case, it may be possible to:
- Seek the exclusion of evidence—By filing a motion to suppress before the trials tarts, your lawyer can keep the prosecutor from using evidence against you. Without evidence, the prosecutor may not be able to make his or her case against you. This tactic is only possible when the evidence is inadmissible for some reason. For example, the police may have obtained incriminating statements from you in violation of your right to remain silent, or found the alleged weapon after an unlawful search.
- Argue self-defense—If your lawyer can show that you killed the victim because he or she didn’t just provoke you, but actually placed you in fear for your life, you may be acquitted of the manslaughter charge. Note that this defense is only available to a voluntary manslaughter charge.
- Claim insanity—You may have killed the victim because you suffer from a recognized mental defect, and at the time of the killing you lacked the ability to understand the nature or consequences of your actions. If you obtain an acquittal from this defense, you may need to undergo psychological treatment. Alternatively, you may be recognized as guilty but mentally ill, in which case you will serve your time in an institution.
- Demonstrate reasonable doubt—By reinterpreting the prosecutor’s evidence and challenging the witnesses who will testify against you, your lawyer can show there is a reasonable doubt as to whether you actually caused the victim’s death or acted with a reckless state of mind. Your lawyer can also introduce new evidence to the case that offers an alternate explanation of what happened or points to your innocence.
At Davis Law Group, we are dedicated to providing our clients with the best possible resources as they face Michigan’s criminal justice system. No matter what charges you are facing, our skill, dedication, and compassion can help you achieve a positive case outcome. If you’ve been charged with manslaughter, call us today at to receive a free and confidential consultation of your case.