Georgia voluntary manslaughter laws

by | Jul 12, 2022 | Criminal Defense

There several different charges a person could face in Georgia when they kill someone. The method of killing and the circumstances will determine the type of case filed against that person. One common homicidal charge is voluntary manslaughter.

Voluntary manslaughter explained

Voluntary manslaughter is defined by Georgia criminal law as an intentional killing of another human being that is committed while the offender is under the influence of extreme emotional disturbance, for example, in the heat of passion or during a fight. It’s important to understand that voluntary manslaughter is different than involuntary manslaughter, such that the latter is an unintentional killing that results from recklessness or criminal negligence.

Georgia laws categorize voluntary manslaughter into two groups, i.e., the heat of passion and misdemeanor manslaughter. The heat of passion occurs when someone is provoked and acts immediately, accidentally killing the other person, while misdemeanor manslaughter occurs as a result of a misdemeanor and not just related to it.

The cooling-off period

The difference between voluntary manslaughter and murder in Georgia is the presence of a “cooling off” period. If there was time for the defendant to cool down between the provocation and the act of homicide, then they can’t be charged with voluntary manslaughter; it would be murder.

Penalties for voluntary manslaughter in Georgia

The penalties for voluntary manslaughter in Georgia depend on the type of charge. The heat of passion voluntary manslaughter conviction is punishable by up to 20 years in prison. A conviction on misdemeanor voluntary manslaughter charges could result in up to one year in jail with probation.

Other consequences include:

  • Inability to own a firearm
  • Denial of a license regardless of whether the crime is related to driving or not
  • Inability to vote until the sentence is completed
  • A criminal record that employers, lenders, landlords and any other person could access

Since these penalties can affect you for life, you or your criminal defense attorney should find proper defenses for your case. For example, you could claim self-defense, insanity, accidental killing or involuntary intoxication.

Voluntary manslaughter is probably the least punishable homicide in Georgia. However, care must be taken that it doesn’t crossover into murder. If the prosecutor can prove in any way or form that there was an element of deliberation or premeditation, simple probation could turn to 30 years.