Aggressive Defense for CA Voluntary Manslaughter Charges

Know Your Rights When You are Charged with Manslaughter in Los Angeles or Ventura County

 

Jury Instruction 570. Voluntary Manslaughter: Heat of Passion

 

A killing that would otherwise be murder is reduced to voluntary manslaughter if the defendant killed someone because of a sudden quarrel or in the heat of passion.

 

The defendant killed someone because of a sudden quarrel or in the heat of passion if:

 

1. The defendant was provoked;

 

2. As a result of the provocation, the defendant acted rashly and under the influence of intense emotion that obscured (his/her) reasoning or judgment;

 

AND

 

3. The provocation would have caused a person of average disposition to act rashly and without due deliberation, that is, from passion rather than from judgment.

 

 

Heat of passion does not require anger, rage, or any specific emotion. It can be any violent or intense emotion that causes a person to act without due deliberation and reflection.

 

 

In order for heat of passion to reduce a murder to voluntary manslaughter, the defendant must have acted under the direct and immediate influence of provocation as I have defined it. While no specific type of provocation is required, slight or remote provocation is not sufficient. Sufficient provocation may occur over a short or long period of time.

 

It is not enough that the defendant simply was provoked. The defendant is not allowed to set up (his/her) own standard of conduct. You must decide whether the defendant was provoked and whether the provocation was sufficient. In deciding whether the provocation was sufficient, consider whether a person of average disposition, in the same situation and knowing the same facts, would have reacted from passion rather than from judgment.

 

[If enough time passed between the provocation and the killing for a person of average disposition to “cool off” and regain his or her clear reasoning and judgment, then the killing is not reduced to voluntary manslaughter on this basis.]

 

The People have the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant did not kill as the result of a sudden quarrel or in the heat of passion. If the People have not met this burden, you must find the defendant not guilty of murder.

 

Jury Instruction 571. Voluntary Manslaughter: Imperfect Self-Defense

 

A killing that would otherwise be murder is reduced to voluntary manslaughter if the defendant killed a person because (he/she) acted in (imperfect self-defense/ [or] imperfect defense of another).

 

If you conclude the defendant acted in complete (self-defense/ [or] defense of another), (his/her) action was lawful and you must find (him/her) not guilty of any crime. The difference between complete (self-defense/ [or] defense of another) and (imperfect self-defense/ [or] imperfect defense of another) depends on whether the defendant’s belief in the need to use deadly force was reasonable.

 

The defendant acted in (imperfect self-defense/ [or] imperfect defense of another) if:

 

1. The defendant actually believed that (he/she/ [or] someone else/ <insert name of third party>) was in imminent danger of being killed or suffering great bodily injury;

 

AND

 

2. The defendant actually believed that the immediate use of deadly force was necessary to defend against the danger;

 

BUT

 

3. At least one of those beliefs was unreasonable.

 

AND

 

2. The defendant actually believed that the immediate use of deadly force was necessary to defend against the danger;

 

BUT

 

3. At least one of those beliefs was unreasonable.

 

Belief in future harm is not sufficient, no matter how great or how likely the harm is believed to be.

 

In evaluating the defendant’s beliefs, consider all the circumstances as they were known and appeared to the defendant.

 

[If you find that <insert name of decedent/victim> threatened or harmed the defendant [or others] in the past, you may consider that information in evaluating the defendant’s beliefs.]

 

[If you find that the defendant knew that <insert name of decedent/victim> had threatened or harmed others in the past, you may consider that information in evaluating the defendant’s beliefs.]

 

[If you find that the defendant received a threat from someone else that (he/she) reasonably associated with

 

[If you find that the defendant knew that <insert name of decedent/victim> had threatened or harmed others in the past, you may consider that information in evaluating the defendant’s beliefs.]

 

[If you find that the defendant received a threat from someone else that (he/she) reasonably associated with <insert name of decedent/victim>, you may consider that threat in evaluating the defendant’s beliefs.]

 

[Great bodily injury means significant or substantial physical injury. It is an injury that is greater than minor or moderate harm.]

 

The People have the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was not acting in (imperfect self-defense/ [or] imperfect defense of another). If the People have not met this burden, you must find the defendant not guilty of murder.

 

 

 

 

 

“Involuntary manslaughter” is accidental homicide, such as running into someone with a car while exercising criminal negligence. This crime is often referred to as the ‘involuntary’ killing of another human being due either to “gross negligence” or to consequences stemming from the commission of a misdemeanor.

 

INVOLUNTARY MANSLAUGHTER. What the DA Must Prove Beyond a Reasonable Doubt?

 

Jury Instruction 580. Involuntary Manslaughter

 

When a person commits an unlawful killing but does not intend to kill and does not act with conscious disregard for human life, then the crime is involuntary manslaughter.

 

The difference between other homicide offenses and involuntary manslaughter depends on whether the person was aware of the risk to life that his or her actions created and consciously disregarded that risk. An unlawful killing caused by a willful act done with full knowledge and awareness that the person is endangering the life of another, and done in conscious disregard of that risk, is voluntary manslaughter or murder. An unlawful killing resulting from a willful act committed without intent to kill and without conscious disregard of the risk to human life is involuntary manslaughter.

 

The defendant committed involuntary manslaughter if:

 

1. The defendant (committed a crime that posed a high risk of death or great bodily injury because of the way in which it was committed/ [or] committed a lawful act, but acted with criminal negligence);

 

AND

 

2. The defendant’s acts unlawfully caused the death of another person.

 

[The People allege that the defendant committed the following crime[s]: <insert misdemeanor[s]/infraction[s])/ noninherently dangerous (felony/felonies)>.

 

Instruction[s] tell[s] you what the People must prove in order to prove that the defendant committed<insert misdemeanor[s]/infraction[s])/ noninherently dangerous (felony/felonies)>.]

 

[The People [also] allege that the defendant committed the following lawful act[s] with criminal negligence: <insert act[s] alleged>.]

 

[Criminal negligence involves more than ordinary carelessness, inattention, or mistake in judgment. A person acts with criminal negligence when:

1. He or she acts in a reckless way that creates a high risk of death or great bodily injury;

 

AND

 

2. A reasonable person would have known that acting in that way would create such a risk.

 

In other words, a person acts with criminal negligence when the way he or she acts is so different from the way an ordinarily careful person would act in the same situation that his or her act amounts to disregard for human life or indifference to the consequences of that act.]

 

[An act causes death if the death is the direct, natural, and probable consequence of the act and the death would not have happened without the act. A natural and probable consequence is one that a reasonable person would know is likely to happen if nothing unusual intervenes. In deciding whether a consequence is natural and probable, consider all of the circumstances established by the evidence.]

 

[There may be more than one cause of death. An act causes death only if it is a substantial factor in causing the death. A substantial factor is more than a trivial or remote factor. However, it does not need to be the only factor that causes the death.]

 

Great bodily injury means significant or substantial physical injury. It is an injury that is greater than minor or moderate harm. It is an injury that is greater than minor or moderate harm.

 

[The People allege that the defendant committed the following (crime[s]/ [and] lawful act[s] with criminal negligence): <insert alleged predicate acts when multiple acts alleged>. You may not find the defendant guilty unless all of you agree that the People have proved that the defendant committed at least one of these alleged acts and you all agree that the same act or acts were proved.]

 

 

In order to prove murder or voluntary manslaughter, the People have the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant acted with intent to kill or with conscious disregard for human life. If the People have not met either of these burdens, you must find the defendant not guilty of murder and not guilty of voluntary manslaughter.

 

This crime of vehicular manslaughter is commonly defined as the accidental or ‘involuntary’ killing of another human being while operating a motor vehicle in a negligent or unlawful fashion.

 

VEHICULAR MANSLAUGHTER. What the DA Must Prove Beyond a Reasonable Doubt?

 

Jury Instruction 592(c)(1). Gross Vehicular Manslaughter

 

<If gross vehicular manslaughter is a charged offense, give alternative A; if this instruction is being given as a lesser included offense, give alternative B.>

 

<Introductory Sentence: Alternative A—Charged Offense> [The defendant is charged [in Count ] with gross vehicular manslaughter [in violation of Penal Code section 192(c)(1)].]

 

<Introductory Sentence: Alternative B—Lesser Included Offense> [Gross vehicular manslaughter is a lesser crime than gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated.]

 

To prove that the defendant is guilty of gross vehicular manslaughter, the People must prove that:

1. The defendant (drove a vehicle/operated a vessel);

2. While (driving that vehicle/operating that vessel), the defendant committed (a/an) (misdemeanor[,]/ [or] Infraction[,]/ [or] otherwise lawful act that might cause death);

3. The defendant committed the (misdemeanor[,]/ [or] infraction[,]/ [or] otherwise lawful act that might cause death) with gross negligence; AND

4. The defendant’s grossly negligent conduct caused the death of another person.

 

[The People allege that the defendant committed the following (misdemeanor[s]/ [and] infraction[s]): <insert misdemeanor[s]/ infraction[s]>.

 

Instruction[s] tell[s] you what the People must prove in order to prove that the defendant committed <insert misdemeanor[s]/infraction[s]>.]

 

[The People [also] allege that the defendant committed the following otherwise lawful act(s) that might cause death: <insert act[s] alleged>.]

 

Gross negligence involves more than ordinary carelessness, inattention, or mistake in judgment. A person acts with gross negligence when:

 

Gross negligence involves more than ordinary carelessness, inattention, or mistake in judgment. A person acts with gross negligence when:

1. He or she acts in a reckless way that creates a high risk of death or great bodily injury;

 

AND

 

2. A reasonable person would have known that acting in that way would create such a risk.

 

In other words, a person acts with gross negligence when the way he or she acts is so different from how an ordinarily careful person would act in the same situation that his or her act amounts to disregard for human life or indifference to the consequences of that act.

 

[Great bodily injury means significant or substantial physical injury. It is an injury that is greater than minor or moderate harm.]

 

[A person facing a sudden and unexpected emergency situation not caused by that person’s own negligence is required only to use the same care and judgment that an ordinarily careful person would use in the same situation, even if it appears later that a different course of action would have been safer.]

 

[An act causes death if the death is the direct, natural, and probable consequence of the act and the death would not have happened without the act. A natural and probable consequence is one that a reasonable person would know is likely to happen if nothing unusual intervenes. In deciding whether a consequence is natural and probable, consider all of the circumstances established by the evidence.]

 

[There may be more than one cause of death. An act causes death only if it is a substantial factor in causing the death. A substantial factor is more than a trivial or remote factor. However, it does not need to be the only factor that causes the death.]

 

[The People allege that the defendant committed the following misdemeanor[s][,]/ [and] infraction[s][,]/ [and] otherwise lawful act[s] that might cause death): <insert alleged predicate acts when multiple acts alleged>. You may not find the defendant guilty unless all of you agree that the People have proved that the defendant committed at least one of these alleged (misdemeanors[,]/ [or] infractions[,]/ [or] otherwise lawful acts that might cause death) and you all agree on which (misdemeanor[,]/ [or] infraction[,]/ [or] otherwise lawful act that might cause death) the defendant committed.]

 

[The People have the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed gross vehicular manslaughter. If the People have not met this burden, you must find the defendant not guilty of that crime. You must consider whether the defendant is guilty of the lesser crime[s] of

[The People have the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed gross vehicular manslaughter. If the People have not met this burden, you must find the defendant not guilty of that crime. You must consider whether the defendant is guilty of the lesser crime[s] of <insert lesser offense[s]>.

 

 

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