Self-defense vs. manslaughter

by | Jan 12, 2021 | Criminal Defense

In states like Georgia, if U.S citizens are feeling threatened and there is a clear and present danger to their lives, they are allowed to practice self-defense in order to escape the situation. However, there are cases in which that self-defense leads to the other person being killed and the defender being accused of a crime. Those accused of manslaughter will likely claim self-defense in court as a means to remove those charges. Read on to learn more about the difference between these two and how each tends to come up during trials.

Manslaughter misconception

One of the most common misconceptions regarding manslaughter is that it pertains to deaths that were accidental. According to criminal law, the issue with is that if the death of a person were actually accidental, then no crime has been committed, and thus, no court case would occur.

When manslaughter applies and is proven

Charges of manslaughter will be filed against a person when that individual is accused of unintentionally killing another person. If manslaughter charges are brought, the prosecutor must prove that the accused was acting negligent or reckless at that moment. For example, someone driving while under the influence and then hitting a pedestrian may be deemed to be acting negligent and reckless. However, that charge may be upgraded if it is proven later on that there was intent to kill.


Suppose a defendant has stated that there was no manslaughter and that the killing was actually a result of self-defense. At this moment, the defendant’s attorney may provide various pieces of evidence to the court. These exhibits may involve the past violent history of the person and the details of the incident that led to death with self-defense as the only means of protection. If the state cannot provide any counter-evidence, the court must acquit the person until prosecutors can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the killing was intentional and not related to self-defense.

No matter the charges being brought, it is incredibly important to consult with an attorney as soon as possible. This may protect you from making any further legal mistakes that could harm your case in the future.