As a Louisiana resident, you may already be aware of the state’s high rate of violent crime. NPR reports that the Pelican State has experienced the highest number of murders in the nation over the past 30 years and has consistently remained in the top five states where violent crimes occur. If you find yourself involved in a crime where someone has been murdered, understanding the difference between voluntary and involuntary manslaughter may be helpful to your case.

Involuntary manslaughter is not a premeditated act and could be defined as an unplanned killing. One instance of this type of murder would be if you accidentally killed someone during a fight, such as if he or she falls and incurs a fatal blow to the head. Another would be accidentally striking and killing someone with your car while you were distracted.

Voluntary manslaughter typically involves premeditation and planning or may happen in the heat of the moment,  for example, if you shoot the man who has been sleeping with your spouse upon catching them in bed together. While you may have intended to cause harm, if the act was not planned beforehand, your attorney may be able to help you plead down a lesser charge.

Because the lines between voluntary and involuntary manslaughter can become blurred and depend on the details of the event, you may want to work with your lawyer and provide as many details as you can. If your charges include reckless behavior, you may face punitive damages if the loved ones of the deceased decide to file a wrongful death suit.

This content is for informational purposes only and should not be interpreted as legal advice.