Salt Lake City criminal defense lawyers assist defendants in protecting their rights
Under Utah law, manslaughter is a type of homicide. Therefore, if you have been charged, the consequences can be life changing and severe. Typically, the accused did not intend to take the life of another person. In fact, it may even have been an accident, such as a car colliding with a pedestrian. However, the legal system does not treat this kind of accident lightly, and even an unintentional act may not garner any sympathy.
If you are facing manslaughter charges, you will need the help of a criminal defense lawyer at Intermountain Legal in Salt Lake City who has experience defending allegations of serious violent crimes. A skilled attorney helps you protect your constitutional rights as you deal with police officers and the criminal justice system. A lawyer also looks at the facts and the evidence and determines the best course of action in your case. Defendants who work with an attorney almost always have a better outcome than those who try to represent themselves against charges.
Understanding Utah manslaughter and homicide laws
In Utah, a manslaughter charge can result when someone recklessly causes the death of another human being. It is differentiated from murder by the state of mind of the person who committed the crime. Where a murder is committed intentionally, manslaughter is committed recklessly, meaning the person generally knows that their actions could potentially cause danger to others, but they choose to ignore that risk. For example, setting off fireworks inside a crowded building could be classified as a reckless action.
A person can be charged with manslaughter in Utah under several scenarios defined by law. First, a murder charge can be reduced to manslaughter if the alleged perpetrator had a reasonable but mistaken belief that their actions were justified ¾ for example, if the accused murders someone he reasonably believes is threatening him with a gun and it turns out the victim was only holding a cell phone. Reasonableness is determined from the viewpoint of an average person in the same circumstances.
Second, a murder charge can be reduced if, at the time of the murder, the accused is suffering from a delusion caused by a mental illness. This is the circumstance commonly called pleading insanity. Under Utah law, the accused person’s attorney must prove that the accused’s actions would have been reasonable if the delusion had been real. Alcohol or drugs cannot be a contributing factor.
Third, murder can be reduced to manslaughter if at the time of the murder the accused was under extreme emotional distress for which there is a reasonable explanation. This is often called a heat of passion killing, such as when a wife shoots another woman immediately after learning that the woman is having an affair with her husband. However, the emotional distress cannot be caused by the accused person’s own actions.
Penalties for manslaughter charges
Manslaughter is a serious crime with serious penalties. Utah classifies it as a second-degree felony, which can result in both prison time and a fine. Incarceration can be from one to 15 years and the fine can be up to $10,000. Additionally, if the victim was killed while the accused was operating a motor vehicle, the State of Utah revokes his or her driver’s license. If you face these serious repercussions, even because of an accident, it is essential to seek the strong representation of a seasoned attorney at Intermountain Legal.
For serious manslaughter charges, get serious legal representation
If you have been charged with manslaughter in Salt Lake City, Park City or anywhere in Utah, contact a criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. One of the most common mistakes people make after being charged is answering questions from the police. It is never a good idea to let the police interrogate you without first speaking with an attorney, even if the crime was an accident. Our attorneys at Intermountain Legal offer a free consultation to give you an initial idea of what you are up against in your case. When you call us at 801-990-4200, you speak directly with a lawyer. Our team has the knowledge and experience to protect your rights and help you navigate a very serious situation.