There is a fine line between manslaughter and murder in Colorado. There are various forms of manslaughter in Colorado such as vehicular homicide, aiding in suicide and sudden heat of passion. The death may have been an accident, but prosecutors will paint you as a murderer.
Regardless of how the incident occurs, the responsible party will have a long and arduous legal battle ahead of them. You run the risk of being labeled a convicted felon, spending time in prison and damaging your professional reputation. It’s crucial you contact legal representation if you or someone you know has been charged with manslaughter.
Colorado Springs Criminal Defense Attorney
The evidence of your case can be the difference between a few months or years in prison. That is why it’s critical you have an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side. The attorneys at Law Offices of Clifton Black, PC will make sure the facts of your case are heard, and the best possible outcome is achieved.
Exercise your right to legal counsel and contact Law Offices of Clifton Black, PC. Call (719) 328-1616 to schedule your case evaluation. Law Offices of Clifton Black, PC defends those accused of manslaughter in El Paso County, Denver County, and Arapahoe County.
Manslaughter vs. Murder
It’s easy to get manslaughter and murder confused, especially since both crimes involve the unlawful killing of another. Many states divide manslaughter into two categories: voluntary and involuntary. Colorado doesn’t do this. Instead, the Centennial State classifies the crime as manslaughter and second-degree murder.
Manslaughter is defined as the unintentional death of another as a result of negligent behavior. For example, you start a fire to burn a pile of yard debris. The grass is dry, so the fire spreads to the yard next door and catches your neighbor’s house on fire. Your neighbors were unable to escape and are killed by the flames. Because there was no intention of killing the neighbors, and the incident occurred out of recklessness, it would be considered manslaughter.
Aiding suicide is also a form or manslaughter. Under Colorado law, you will be charged with manslaughter if you intentionally cause another person to commit suicide or if you provide the means to commit suicide. Aiding in suicide will become murder if you performed the act which resulted in death.
Manslaughter is not a charge that should be taken lightly. The offense is a class 3 felony punishable by up to 12 years in prison and a fine of up to $750,000.
Sudden Heat of Passion
As mentioned earlier, Colorado classifies voluntary manslaughter as second-degree murder. This form of manslaughter is considered knowing the level of intent, but not rising to the level of murder because the death was caused during a sudden heat of passion.
Sudden heat of passion occurs when someone is overwhelmed by emotions, loses sense of judgment and kills another as a result. Instances commonly associated with sudden heat of passion include road rage and finding out a significant other has been unfaithful.
There is no cooling off period between the provoking incident and the fatality in a sudden heat of passion. For instance, you find your spouse in bed with another person, walk out of the room and return moments later with a weapon and end up killing them both. Walking out of the room and returning is considered premeditated and will result in greater charges.
Causing the death of another in a sudden heat of passion is not charged as harsh as second-degree murder. Instead, you will be charged the same as manslaughter, which is a class 3 felony punishable by up to 12 years in prison and a fine up to $750,000.
What is Vehicular Homicide?
Reckless and intoxicated driving plague the Colorado roadways. When another is killed by a driver who was texting or under the influence of alcohol, it’s considered vehicular homicide. To be convicted of vehicular homicide, the prosecution must prove your intoxicated or reckless driving was the proximate cause of another’s death.
There are many driving behaviors considered reckless. Some of these acts include texting and driving, running stops signs and speeding well over the posted limit. Reckless driving is negligent behavior, meaning you are aware of your actions and the dangers they could cause, yet you continue doing them.
Causing the death of another while driving under the influence also falls under the definition of vehicular homicide. You are under the influence if you have a BAC of .08 percent or higher or being drunk or high to the point you are mentally or physically incapable of operating a vehicle safely. Prosecutors will not care if the drug that impaired your driving was legally purchased.
Vehicular homicide is charged based on the driving behavior causing another’s death. Penalties for the crime include the following:
- Reckless driving: Class 4 felony punishable by two to six years in prison, a fine between $2,000 and $50,000 and a minimum license suspension of one year.
- Driving under the influence: Class 3 felony punishable by four to 12 years in prison, a fine between $3,000 and $750,000 and a minimum license suspension of one year.
Manslaughter | Colorado Revised Statutes – Follow the link provided to read the section of the revised statutes governing manslaughter in Colorado. You can read the legal definition of the crime, when the crime does not apply and how it’s charged. You can also gain access to other manslaughter statutes such as criminally negligent homicide and vehicular homicide.
Sudden Heat of Passion | Colorado Revised Statutes – Visit FindLaw to read the statute over sudden heat of passion. You can also learn more about the cool off period and charges for second-degree murder. FindLaw is an online legal information service.
Manslaughter Defense Lawyer in Colorado Springs, CO
Have you been charged with manslaughter? Is your court-appointed lawyer not helping? You have come to the right place. Law Offices of Clifton Black, PC has almost a decade of experience defending clients of violent crimes and we want to use this experience to your advantage.
The sooner you contact Law Offices of Clifton Black, PC, the sooner we can begin building your defense. Call (719) 328-1616 to schedule a case evaluation. We defend those accused of manslaughter in Colorado Springs, Denver, and Littleton.