Under Utah law, manslaughter is a type of homicide. Therefore, if you have been charged with manslaughter in Utah, the consequences can be life-changing and severe. Typically with manslaughter, the accused didn’t 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. But the Utah legal system does not treat this kind of accident lightly, and even an unintentional act may not garner any sympathy from Utah law enforcement and Utah courts. If you are facing manslaughter charges, you will need the help of a criminal defense lawyer who has experience defending serious criminal cases. A manslaughter criminal defense attorney can protect your constitutional rights as you deal with police officers and the Utah criminal justice system. A manslaughter criminal defense lawyer can also look at the facts and the evidence and determine what the best course of action will be in dealing with your manslaughter case. Defendants who work with a manslaughter criminal defense attorney almost always have a better outcome than those who try to represent themselves against manslaughter charges.
Utah Manslaughter Laws
In Utah, manslaughter 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.” Generally, “recklessly” means that the person 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 manslaughter charge can result when someone recklessly causes the death of another human being.
A person can also be charged with manslaughter in Utah under several scenarios defined by Utah law. First, a murder charge can be reduced to a manslaughter charge if the person who committed the murder had a reasonable but mistaken belief that their actions were justified. For example, a manslaughter charge could result 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 existing circumstances. Second, a murder charge can be reduced to a manslaughter charge 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 criminal defense attorney must prove that the accused person’s actions would have been reasonable if the delusion had been real. Additionally, alcohol or drugs could not have been a contributing factor in the delusion. 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 woman is having an affair with her husband. For murder to be reduced to manslaughter, the emotional distress cannot have been caused by the accused person’s own actions.
Utah Manslaughter Penalties
Manslaughter is a serious crime with serious penalties. Utah classifies Manslaughter as a second degree felony, which can result in both prison time and a fine. Incarceration can be from one to fifteen 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 will revoke the accused person’s driver’s license.
Contact a Utah Manslaughter Attorney
If you have been charged with manslaughter, you should contact a criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. One of the most common mistakes people make after being charged with manslaughter in Utah is to answer questions from the police. People charged with manslaughter often think that what happened was an accident and that they have nothing to hide. It is never a good idea to let the police interrogate you without first speaking with a manslaughter criminal defense attorney. The manslaughter criminal defense attorneys at Intermountain Legal offer a free consultation to give you an initial idea of what you are up against in your manslaughter case. When you call, you will speak directly with a manslaughter criminal defense attorney. Our manslaughter criminal defense lawyers have experience on both sides of manslaughter law in Utah, both as prosecutors and as criminal defense lawyers. They have the knowledge and the experience to protect your rights and help you navigate a very serious situation. They also have the relationships with prosecutors and judges to help you minimize the consequences of your manslaughter charge as much as possible.
Intermountain Legal is located in Salt Lake City, UT and serves clients throughout all of Northern and Central Utah including Salt Lake City, Midvale, Sandy, West Jordan, North Salt Lake, Bountiful, South Jordan, Clearfield, Woods Cross, Draper, Farmington, Centerville, Layton, Ogden, Lehi, Provo, Orem, Park City, Davis County, Salt Lake County, Weber County, Utah County, Tooele County, Summit County.